Health insurers get direction on coronavirus

News Service of Florida

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier last Friday sent a memo to health insurers advising them to consider “all practical options to reduce the barriers of cost-sharing for testing and treatment” of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

“Consumers may seek a variety of forms of healthcare in connection with COVID-19, including, but not limited to, physician office visits, laboratory testing, urgent care services, and emergency services,” Altmaier said in the memo.

“It is important to remove actual or perceived barriers to testing for COVID-19. Consumers could be reluctant to seek testing or treatment due to other anticipated costs.” The Office of Insurance Regulation said the memo went to 311 insurance companies. 

The memo came after AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson requested that the Legislature provide funding to offset costs of testing for the virus.

AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson requested that the Legislature provide funding to offset costs of testing for the coronavirus.
Photo special to the Outlook

“Florida government’s highest duty is to protect its residents,” Johnson said in a statement. “As the Legislature considers appropriate steps to prevent the spread of this illness in our state, more funding for testing makes sense.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a public-health emergency as COVID-19 cases began emerging in Florida. As of last Friday, the Florida Department of Health’s website showed nine positive cases. Three cases involve Florida residents who are in state; five involve residents who are out of the state; and one involves a non-Florida resident who is in isolation in the state. 

Fifty-five COVID 19 tests had been returned negative for the virus, and the state was awaiting results on another 51 tests. The state was monitoring 264 people, according to the website. Meanwhile the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday released what it described as COVID-19 “fact sheets” that address Medicare and Medicaid coverage for diagnostic laboratory tests, immunizations and vaccines, telemedicine, drugs and cost-sharing policies.

The agency also released a fact sheet for individual and group-insurance policies. That included encouraging people to check with their “health insurance company to determine coverage for physician and hospital related services for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. Standard cost sharing may apply for these services.”