Article 43

 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Price of a Caronavirus Test

image: caronavirus

Back in March 2020, CDC DIRECTOR ROBERT REDFIELD went on record saying the goverment will pay for testing and treatment of coronavirus regardless of insurance coverage.

Watch him speak his empty words HERE:

image: cdc director redfield

Here’s the LAW Representative PORTER pointed out that gives him the power:

The Director may authorize payment for the care and treatment of individuals subject to medical examination, quarantine, isolation, and conditional release

In the eight months that passed since, I haven’t been - and probably won’t be - tested.

I splurged for a mask to wear in public to help protect others, but if the disease winds up in my body, I hope it isn’t painful, and kills me quick, cause I can’t afford to get it fixed.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

Elvis/Ed

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Q&A: How much does it cost to get a COVID-19 test? It depends.

Josh Sharfstein, professor of practice and vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, on the nuances of insurance coverage and expenses that accompany COVID-19 testing.

Widespread testing for the novel coronavirus has proven an essential tool in fighting the spread of the disease. Testing allows public health officials to track the viruss path, understand disease prevalence, and determine the need for isolation and quarantine. As the demand for COVID-19 testing has grown, so too have questions about who bears the cost. To understand more about the nuances of insurance coverage and expenses that accompany COVID-19 testing, we reached out to Josh Sharfstein, Professor of Practice and Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

How much does a viral test for COVID-19 cost?

There is a wide range in charges. An investigation by the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that the cost of a test can range anywhere from $20 to $850, with $127 being the median cost. Currently, the Medicare reimbursement rate for a COVID-19 test is either $51 or $100, depending on the type of test offered. For those who end up paying out of pocket, there was a smaller range of $36 to $180 per test. Again, any test would also likely require additional charges for specimen collection and a physician’s visit, which could potentially add to the cost significantly.

Does the cost vary depending on where you live?

Yes, in part. The cost for a COVID-19 test may vary a great deal based on type of laboratory where the test is processed, region of the country, insurance provider, and other factors. This unpredictability of cost is part of the larger, fragmented healthcare system in the United States that leads to a wide variability in medical expenses.

Does insurance cover the costs of a COVID-19 test?

Federal law requires insurers to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests, but unfortunately patients are still being charged for related expenses. The law does not require insurers to cover the cost of the medical consultation or doctors referral that may be required before a test will be administered. Another reason is that federal guidance only requires reimbursement for “medically appropriate” testing. An insurance provider might decide that certain types of testing (such as testing after a trip) may not be considered “medically appropriate.”

What about the uninsured?

The federal government has provided a path for reimbursement for COVID-related testing and treatment expenses for the uninsured, including testing. Details about this program are available here. There is no requirement that clinics or physicians avail themselves of this program. As a result, it is possible that the uninsured could still be charged for testing by their healthcare provider.

Why is there so much confusion about pricing and payment for COVID-19 tests?

Early on in the pandemic, in March, several faculty members at Johns Hopkins - myself included - recommended a very different approach to the piecemeal strategy adopted by the federal government. The idea would be to build a crisis insurance system centered on paying to test for and treat COVID-19, and to use the existing Medicare infrastructure and network to provide a payment system for all providers. Since the scale of the problem is national, a federal program would have the capacity to negotiate prices on a global scale, which would help reduce costs. It would also provide an easy route for billing among the large influx of requests for tests and materials that are inundating labs, emergency departments, and hospitals. Additionally, centralizing the expenses from coronavirus care under a crisis insurance program would greatly improve our data collection efforts as we continue to track the virus. Such an alternative path would have prevented many of the current frustrations with accessing and paying for diagnosis and care.

SOURCE

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COVID Testing Is Supposed to Be Free. So Why Are People Still Getting Huge Bills?

By Kristen Bahler
CNN Money
August 18, 2020

Free, universal coronavirus testing is critical to flattening the arc of infection. But while federal law aims to make such testing EASY TO ACCESS and WIDELY AVAILABLE, those efforts have fallen short for many Americans.

The U.S. healthcare system - chaotic in any normal year - is being stretched tissue-paper thin by a flood of coronavirus cases, and squabbling between insurers and legislators about who should pay for that influx isnt making things easier.

So while President Donald Trump has signed multiple orders designed to ensure Americans can get tested for COVID-19 for free, regardless of their insurance coverage, policy loopholes have left numerous ways for patients to get stuck with a bill anyway. (See: The California essential worker who was charged nearly $2,000 for COVID-19 testing, or the woman in Austin, Texas who got a $6,000 bill, according to NPR and the NEW YORK TIMES, respectively.)

Here’s everything we know about how much coronavirus tests actually cost and why some people are having to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.

[Note: The type of testing referenced throughout this story refers to the COVID-19 diagnostic test, not the antibody test. A complete guide to the where to buy coronavirus antibody tests and how much they cost CAN BE FOUND HERE].

How much is a COVID-19 test SUPPOSED to cost?

Prices for coronavirus testing aren’t federally regulated, according to a REPORT from The Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation (Peterson-KFF). Like other types of medical fees, insurance companies have to negotiate the cost with the providers and labs that dole out the tests.

The CARES Act requires hospitals and other medical providers to disclose the CASH PRICE of COVID-19 tests on their websites, which, in theory, could help could people looking to take the test know exactly how much money they’ll be out if they end up having to pay for it on their own. But not all medical providers are following that CARES Act rule - and those that are publicly posting coronavirus test prices are disclosing costs ranging anywhere from $20 to $850 per test, according to the Peterson-KFF report. That’s quite a spectrum, and it doesn’t include fees for other services that may be required, like doctors visit charges, specimen collection, or other types of diagnostic testing.

How to get free COVID testing

Insurers are legally required to pay for in-network testing, so try to find a medical facility where you know you’ll be covered. Many insurers have also agreed to cover the cost of a COVID test if its done at an OUT-OF-NETWORK facility, but you’ll want to reach out to your insurance company (or Medicare/Medicaid provider) before your visit.

As of this writing, the government is REIMBURSING MEDICAL PROVIDORS that give coronavirus tests and treatment to uninsured Americans, as long as certain qualifications are met. So as long as you have a SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER AND A STATE I.D., you should be able to get a test for free or for a nominal fee - even if you don’t have insurance.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Insurers aren’t required to pay for fees incurred by patients who seek a COVID-19 test but don’t actually GET the test. So if a doctor decides not to test you for the virus, or the facility has run out of tests completely, you could still be on the hook for whatever fees you happen to rack up during your visit from a strep test to a five-night HOSPITAL STAY.

THE RULES for out-of-network coverage are even more muddled, which can be particularly burdensome for people living in rural and low-income pockets of the country where medical providers ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN.

“Such charges - can be financially burdensome or prohibitive for uninsured or self-pay patients, especially given the current labor market and high rates of unemployment,” the KFF report says.

Where to get a coronavirus test

Your state and local health department websites should have a list of the hospitals, clinics, and “drive-thru” screening facilities offering COVID-19 tests in your area, according to the CDC.

Many doctors and medical centers are scheduling TELEHEALTH APPOINTMENTS over video prior to administering the test in-person, so make sure you know what the procedure is before trying to get a walk-in appointment (you might get turned away if you just show up). Pharmacies like CVS and WALGREENS are also operating pop-up testing sites appointments for those facilities can be booked online.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/13/20 •
Section Dying America
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