Michigan insurers cover virus tests; Medicaid copays waived

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LANSING — Michigan health insurers said Friday they will cover the cost of medically necessary tests for the new coronavirus for people covered under employer and individual health plans, while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the waiving of testing and treatment fees for Medicaid recipients.

Michigan currently has no known COVID-19 cases, but infections have been identified in about half of the states.

Plans that will waive copays and deductibles for testing costs include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, Priority Health, CVS Health, McLaren and Meridian, according to the governor's office. The change will not apply — for now — to large employers that self-insure but use insurance companies to administer their benefits.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state's largest health insurer, said it will work with its self-funded customers — a significant share of big companies or other large employers — to make decisions in coming weeks.

"Having symptoms of coronavirus and waiting for test results to come back is hard enough. Our members shouldn't have to worry about paying their copays, too," Blue Cross Blue Shield President and CEO Daniel Loepp said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield will forgo prior authorization rules for diagnostic tests and covered services to treat the disease, set aside refill limits on prescriptions, and expand access to telehealth and a 24-hour nurse hotline.

Whitmer said Medicaid, which covers more than 2.4 million lower-income residents, will waive copays and cost sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment. She applauded the insurers for not applying copays and deductibles to coronavirus testing.

"I strongly encourage all health insurers in Michigan to follow suit to help protect public health and protect families' pocketbooks," Whitmer said.

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