Senators Shaheen, Hassan & Colleagues Call for Answers on Americans Being Left on the Hook for COVID-19 Testing Costs

September 22, 2020

Senators Also Raise Concerns Over Impact of CDC’s Changing Testing Guidelines on Insurance Companies’ Policies

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) raised concerns about individuals being charged for COVID-19 diagnostic tests. While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, both signed into law earlier this year, require health insurance plans to cover costs associated with COVID-19 testing, there are troubling reports of insured individuals receiving unexpected bills for their COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

“We write to you today to express serious concerns regarding recent reports of health insurance companies ending comprehensive coverage of COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing requirements and to request clarification regarding your current coverage policy,” wrote the Senators. “As you know, COVID-19 testing is one of the most important tools in slowing the spread of this deadly virus….As executives of health insurance companies, you play a critical role in ensuring access to COVID-19 testing for millions of Americans, and the decision to impose new financial barriers to testing could discourage or prevent access to testing, and ultimately cost lives.

The Senators also raise concerns over the impact of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changing testing guidelines on insurance companies’ policies. While the CDC initially included asymptomatic individuals in testing recommendations, the CDC recently discouraged the testing of asymptomatic decisions, then reversed itself.

“Recent reporting suggests that the decision to remove asymptomatic individuals from the CDC testing guidelines was not made by the CDC, but rather added to the CDC website on August 24 by political appointees at [the Department of Health and Human Services],” wrote the Senators. “To the extent you are basing coverage decisions on the CDC guidelines published on August 24, we encourage you to revisit those decisions and ensure that your coverage policies are aligned with fact and evidence-based recommendations put forth by public health experts, as reflected in the updated CDC guidelines published on September 18.

The Senators are requesting detailed answers on health insurance companies’ COVID-19 testing policies by September 30.

You can read the Senators’ letters here