Coronavirus testing must be covered by insurance, state says

DOVER — Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro is reminding Delawareans and insurers that coronavirus testing is a necessary benefit required to be covered by health care. Insurers and providers should also promote telemedicine to allow people to speak with a doctor remotely, Mr. Navarro said.

First diagnosed in Wuhan, China, late last year, this strain of coronavirus has sickened more than 110,000 people worldwide and killed at least 4,000. As of Tuesday, 35 states had reported cases, with 25 deaths. No instances have been reported in Delaware, but many health experts consider it simply a matter of time.

Anyone who has recently returned from a country with a level two or three travel alert — China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea — in the past 14 days who is experiencing coughing, a fever or shortness of breath should contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 1-866-408-1899.

Concerned individuals can also contact their primary care provider, calling ahead before visiting. People are also urged not to go to a hospital unless instructed to do so by a medical professional.

DPH’s Smyrna Health Lab can test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, at no cost to patients. Call the above number, email DPHCall@delaware.gov or visit de.gov/coronavirus for more information.

In the event of an outbreak, medical facilities may experience a great deal of activity. Mr. Navarro said care related to COVID-19 outside of the testing process should be considered in-network by health insurers if their in-network providers are unable to provide care. Immunization should be covered by insurance if one is developed.

Delaware law bars surprise billing.

“I applaud those carriers who have committed to waiving upfront costs for their consumers,” Mr. Navarro said in a statement. “Residents may avoid being tested simply because they can’t afford to pay their co-pays or deductibles, and I commend the companies that are taking the barrier of economic ability out of the equation.”

A spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services said every hospital in the state has its own surge plan in the event of a wave of activity if the virus spreads here. As of Tuesday, two Delawareans were being tested for the virus, the state said.

Further information about what insurers are required to cover is available at https://news.delaware.gov/files/2020/03/Domestic-and-Foreign-Insurers-Bulletin-No.-115-Coverage-for-COVID-19-Coronavirus.pdf.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

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