Several US insurance firms have announced they will be waiving the cost of testing for coronavirus for policyholders

The US has expanded the amount of laboratories able to provide coronavirus testing (Credit: PixaBay)

A US insurance firm has announced it will be waiving the costs incurred by customers who require testing for coronavirus under its policies, with others suggesting they could relax their terms and “potentially” absorb the fees.

Industry representative group America’s Health Insurance Plans – which has board members from health insurance giants Humana, Anthem, CVS and Cigna – released a statement affirming the four’s commitment to cover diagnostic testing for the virus, stating that the cost of doing so could be waived for customers.

As of today (6 March), Cigna is the only member to assure customers it will waive all co-pays or cost-sharing arrangements on its Medicare Advantage and Medicaid programmes, as well as all Obamacare exchange health plans and those it manages for large employers.

Cigna president and CEO David M Cordani said: “During this time of heightened concern, Cigna’s role is clear.

“We will do everything we can to help contain this virus, remove barriers to testing and treatment, especially for seniors and people who are chronically ill, and give peace of mind to those we serve.

coronavirus testing
Cigna president and CEO David M. Cordani (Credit: Cigna)

Yesterday, California became the latest state to issue emergency orders that force insurers to waive copays and other costs associated with coronavirus testing, joining New York and Washington.


Are more insurers likely to waive the cost of testing for coronavirus?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the US federal agency tasked with public health management – has so far shouldered the cost of testing for coronavirus in Medicaid and Medicare patients tested outside of its own facilities.

But it’s unclear what role the government will play in subsidising the cost to insurers after a 29 February announcement from the FDA relaxed rules preventing laboratories outside of the CDC from testing for coronavirus.

This announcement resulted in many private labs setting up their own facilities for testing, all of which have different levels of cost to insurers – so the extent to which individual providers pass this cost on to consumers remains to be seen.

The Trump administration is considering covering the cost of coronavirus testing and treatment for the uninsured, but hasn’t said anything about subsidising the cost to insurers.

According to data from the US Census Bureau, 8.5% of Americans were uninsured in 2018, with 91.5% holding some form of health coverage.