Early in the coronavirus pandemic Congress formed an emergency system to ensure free testing for the virus and to help uninsured Americans avoid big hospital bills for Covid-19 treatment. Most large insurance companies waived cost-sharing agreements for Covid-19 patients at the same time. But as many bills arrive, not all patients are benefiting from the system. The Wall Street Journal identified four key groups that, based on their coverage status, experience the financial ramifications of infection in different ways.
1. The uninsured can get some costs covered.
People who aren’t insured can apply for financial assistance to cover their Covid-19 related hospital bills under the Cares Act, but the paperwork can be a difficult task for many patients who are still suffering from the illness’s long-term effects. Follow-up care outside of the hospital may not be covered by the assistance program.
2. Some Medicare beneficiaries are vulnerable to high out-of-pocket costs.
The six million Americans who are covered by Medicare but who don’t have supplementary insurance plans to cover cost-sharing, copayments and prescriptions are at risk of incurring large expenses, says Tricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Because Medicare doesn’t have out-of-pocket spending limits and hasn’t suspended its 20% cost-sharing for Covid-19 treatments, the costs can sometimes add up. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services didn’t respond to requests for comment.
3. Low-income Medicaid holders are covered.
Patients who have insurance through Medicaid, the government health insurance program for 72.5 million low-income Americans, shouldn’t be required to pay anything for Covid-19 treatment, says Caitlin Donovan, a senior director at the National Patient Advocacy Foundation. However, a lot of those people have lost their jobs. “For them, it is more of a general safety-net issue,” she says.
4. Private insurance holders are mostly covered.
About two-thirds of Americans under the age of 65 have private insurance through an employer. But they may need to shell out copayments for additional treatment, such as visits to specialists.
Read the original article by Robbie Whelan here.
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