Workers could be stuck with bill for COVID-19 testing

Local

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For anyone that is required to get regular COVID-19 testing as part of reopening, a new guidance has come out. Many insurance companies are stating they are not responsible for the cost of those tests and now they would come out of your pocket.

Mary Martin is the owner of Martin Day Spa in Saratoga Springs. As a part of reopening, nail techs, hair dressers and estheticians are required every two weeks by the state to get tested for the coronavirus. When Martin went to go get tested, she ran into major problems.

“I’m driving over to my doctor’s office, and they said, ‘Mary, we don’t write scripts for the coronavirus testing anymore.’ They told me that my insurance is not covering the test every two weeks. I have been out of work for four months now, and I just had a break down,” said Martin.

Leslie Moran is the Senior Vice President of the New York Health Plan Association. Moran says a recent change has been made by the federal government when it comes to testing of employees going back to work.

“So there is a new guidance from the federal government that says this type of back to work and ongoing surveillance testing is not required to be covered by insurers,” explained Moran.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is one of the first relief packages approved by Congress. The FFCRA was passed by Congress to require health plans to fully pay for testing deemed “medically necessary.”

Q5. Is COVID-19 testing for surveillance or employment purposes required to be covered under section 6001 of the FFCRA?

No. Section 6001 of the FFCRA requires coverage of items and services only for diagnostic purposes as outlined in this guidance. Clinical decisions about testing are made by the individual’s attending health care provider and may include testing of individuals with signs or symptoms compatible with COVID-19, as well as asymptomatic individuals with known or suspected recent exposure to SARS-CoV-2, that is determined to be medically appropriate by the individual’s health care provider, consulting CDC guidelines as appropriate.13 However, testing conducted to screen for general workplace health and safety (such as employee “return to work” programs), for public health surveillance for SARS-CoV-2, or for any other purpose not primarily intended for individualized diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19 or another health condition is beyond the scope of section 6001 of the FFCRA,” stated FFCRA.

A local doctor says there must be a plan put in place to get employees the answers they may need when it comes to testing.

“There should be some type of strategies put place to say this is where you can go to get testing. Another question that many are asking is what is covered by private insurance companies and what is not. Many employees are also wondering if the testing should be covered by their employers,” said a local doctor.

Martin says having her salon being closed for four months, she can’t afford paying for the tests on her own dime.

“We need help, and we need it from the state. If they want us to keep getting tested, we are willing to do it. But we need someone to pay for this,” said Martin.

The New York Health Plan Association says New York is set to receive $1.5 billion from the federal government to support state testing strategies. The organization feels that back-to-work testing is a public health responsibility. Moran says anyone that has questions about their testing coverage is encouraged to contact their provider.

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