New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced plans to require insurers to waive copayments for all medical expenses related to COVID-19 testing, including emergency department care and visits to in-network urgent care and physicians' offices.
The New York State Department of Financial Services will issue an emergency regulation to waive cost-sharing requirements. An initial emergency filing generally expires in 90 days, and the measure can be re-adopted for an additional 60 days. The department did not respond to an inquiry about the effective dates of the emergency regulation.
Medicaid beneficiaries in New York would not be expected to pay a co-pay for testing.
"These actions will help ensure that cost does not serve as a barrier to access to COVID-19 testing for any New Yorker," the Democratic governor said in a statement.
The regulations would not apply to self-funded, employer-based health insurance plans.
The Department of Financial Services also asked insurers to develop telehealth programs, offer access to out-of-network providers if provider networks are overwhelmed, and cover off-formulary prescription drugs in case of drug shortages.
America's Health Insurance Plans did not specifically comment on Cuomo's plan but said that people should not avoid getting treatment for COVID-19 symptoms because of fears about costs.
"Effectively containing and responding to COVID-19 relies on strong public-private partnerships with a shared commitment to putting the health and well-being of the American people first. Health insurance providers fully support this commitment, and are working with other health care stakeholders to develop and implement solutions that will protect Americans seeking diagnoses for, and treatment of, COVID-19 from out-of-pocket costs," AHIP spokesperson Kristine Grow said in a statement.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association did not provide specific comment on New York's guidance, but interim chief medical officer Dr. Vincent Nelson said "Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are working closely with local, state and federal governments during the coronavirus outbreak to ensure that patients get the information and care they need."