I’m told COVID-19 testing should be “free”, is this true?
Probably not. Like all questions regarding our healthcare system, the answers are complicated. On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and while it supposedly made getting tested for the coronavirus free, it probably won’t always work out that way. The new law mandates that Medicare, Medicaid, other government plans, and most private plans cover COVID-19 testing — and all testing-related services — entirely. That means no co-pays, no deductibles, no co-insurance charges. Free. The law requires insurers to cover testing and doctor’s office, urgent care, telehealth or emergency room visits as long as the services “related to the furnishing or administration” of a COVID-19 test or “to the evaluation of such individuals for purposes of determining the need” of a test. That means that if your visit does not result in a COVID-19 test, if you get tested somewhere that is not in your insurance plan’s network, or if you’re treated in any way besides just getting a test, you could end up with a bill. You can read more in Time Magazine. (March 31, 2020)