WASHINGTON – House Democrats introduced legislation requiring all health insurance plans to cover the full cost of COVID-19 testing for U.S. consumers. The No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act codifies the promises made by insurers to cover COVID-19 at no cost to patients and fills potential gaps in coverage for people in self-insured plans.
The legislation was introduced by Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL-27), Chair of the Subcommittee on Health Employment, Labor, and Pensions; Rep. Kim Schrier (WA-08); Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01); and Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-01).
“We are dealing with a virus that is difficult to understand and difficult to treat,” said Rep. Wilson. “Given so much uncertainty, it is imperative that people who need to be tested not hesitate because of fear about costs. This bill will give Americans the confidence to seek the testing they need without having to worry about how to pay for it, which will in turn help to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in our communities and workplaces.”
“Washington state has led the way by making sure people under state insurance plans and without health insurance can have COVID-19 testing covered. That’s a great start,” said Rep. Schrier. “But many of my constituents have insurance through their employers or another private insurance provider. This bill will keep people from paying exorbitant prices for the test, which protects the public, and may save their life. It is in all of our best interest to get people tested so they don’t infect others. Cost should not be a deterrent.”
“Guaranteeing people have access to testing free of charge is paramount to combatting the spread of this virus,” said Rep. DelBene. “Out-of-pocket costs should not stand in the way of protecting public health. I am pleased to team up again with Dr. Schrier to deliver common sense relief for Americans affected by this outbreak.”
“We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep the American people safe. To do that, we need to increase testing immediately and we can’t afford to have people afraid to come forward because they are worried about the cost of these tests,” said Rep. DeGette.
Despite the Trump administration’s announcement that COVID-19 testing will be fully covered for all patients under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the administration does not have the authority to enforce this requirement for a vast majority of plans. While states have taken steps to provide coverage for COVID-19, many insurers and plans have opted to only voluntarily cover these services. Without federal action, uniform coverage requirements across all health insurance payers will not exist.
The No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act would create a uniform, federally required standard that all insurers cover the full cost of testing. Specifically, this legislation would mandate commercial payers selling individual or group health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, including ERISA plans and grandfathered plans, to cover all COVID-19 testing without patient cost-sharing – including copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.
To read the bill text for the No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act, click here.
The No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act is cosponsored by Rep. Wilson (FL-24), Rep. Schrier (WA-08), Rep. DelBene (WA-01), Rep. DeGette (CO-01), Rep. Scott (VA-03), Rep. Grijalva (AZ-03), Rep. Courtney (CT-02), Rep. Sablan (MP-At-Large), Rep. Bonamici (OR-01), Rep. Jayapal (WA-07), Rep. Morelle (NY-25), Rep. McBath (GA-06), Rep. Hayes (CT-05), Rep. Shalala (FL-27), Rep. Levin (MI-09), Rep. Trone (MD-06), Rep. Stevens (MI-11), and Rep. DelSaulnier (CA-11).