What uninsured Texans should do if they think they have coronavirus

Gov. Greg Abbott and the state's Department of Insurance have asked health insurers to waive costs associated with testing and telemedicine visits for the diagnosis of coronavirus.

"We must ensure no Texan is denied access to testing resources relating to coronavirus," said Abbott.

The governor also urged anyone who believe they may be stricken with the illness to seek a digital approach for medical help.

"Texans who are concerned that they may have coronavirus should seek medical attention in the most appropriate setting, and telemedicine is a good first medical encounter for anyone experiencing mild symptoms. Consulting a physician from home is a practical way to avoid getting sick, prevent the spread of the virus, and help ensure that emergency rooms are available for those who truly need them," Abbott added.

Here is what Abbott and the Department of Insurance are asking of insurers:
  • Waive co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles for testing that is consistent with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Waive consumer cost-sharing and facilitate expanded use of telemedicine.
  • Cover necessary medical equipment, supplies, and services.
  • Waive penalties, restrictions, and claims denials for necessary out-of-network services.
  • Waive requirements for pre-authorization, referrals, notification of hospital admission, or medical necessity reviews for care consistent with CDC guidance.
  • Allow extra time for health providers and facilities to file claims.
  • Authorize payment to pharmacies for up to a 90-day supply of any prescription medication for individuals, regardless of when the prescription was filled.

In addition, a number of health insurers have begun waiving cost-sharing related to COVID-19 testing, and there will be more added in the coming days:

  • Aetna (CVS)
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
  • Cigna Health of Texas, Inc.
  • Community Health Choice, Inc.
  • Golden Rule Insurance (UHC)
  • Humana Health Plan of Texas, Inc.
  • Molina Healthcare Insurance Company of Texas
  • Oscar Insurance Company
  • Scott & White Health Plan
  • Superior Health Plan (Centene)
  • United Healthcare Insurance Company

While the governor's request involves subscribers of state-regulated insurance plans, officials remind people who have Medicaid and CHIP that they will be able to access testing ordered by a physician at no cost.

Additionally, the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, The Texas A&M University System, and The University of Texas System have been asked to provide these same benefits to employees and retirees covered by their PPO and HMO plans.

In terms of those who aren't insured, the governor's office told ABC13 that people who believe they have symptoms should "seek medical care through their usual channels. If someone needs a provider, they can dial 2-1-1, which can direct them to low- or no-cost providers in their area. If someone needs testing, they will be able to get it."

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