Health insurers respond to reports that they are not covering the cost of COVID testing

Local News

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 08: A healthcare worker test a patient at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at the Duke Energy for the Arts Mahaffey Theater on July 8, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Pinellas County Government partnered with state and local health care agencies to open a COVID-19 testing site while the state undergoes another surge in coronavirus cases. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Health insurers are responding to Mayor Brown, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein after they called on them to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing for their members.

BlueCross BlueShield says reports of health insurers not covering employer required, back-to-work COVID testing for healthy workers are incomplete, and therefore misleading.

Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President Dr. Thomas Schenk tells News 4 there’s been no change in their policy regarding occupational testing and public-health screening. 

He also says they are following what the majority of health insurers are doing nationally.

“At BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, we have and will continue to cover all medically necessary testing and treatment for our members. That has been the case since the pandemic exploded here in March. We still cover all testing recommended by a doctor, or other health care provider, because of direct exposure, travel exposure, or symptoms,” Dr. Schenk said.

According to BlueCross BlueShield, they have covered and will continue to cover the full cost of COVID-19 treatment, regardless of where care is provided in the United States.

Independent Health also responded to local leaders call for covering the cost of COVID-19 testing:

“Our COVID testing coverage has not changed. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required health plans to provide coverage without any cost sharing, prior authorization or medical management requirements for diagnosing COVID-19. Independent Health therefore continues to cover COVID testing with no member cost share for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Recent federal guidance confirmed this coverage requirement does not apply to ‘back to work’ testing. Based on this guidance, such testing is not required to be covered under the commercial health insurance and our policy, which is consistent with other plans throughout New York State, follows this guidance.”

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