Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Ensure COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Testing Costs Not Borne by Patients

Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Donna Shalala (D-FL) have introduced the Covering Coronavirus Test Act of 2020 (H.R. 6173). This legislation is intended to prevent health insurance companies from requiring those being tested for COVID-19 (coronavirus) to pay for the testing.

Based on H.R. 6173 legislative text obtained through Rep. DeGette, this very brief bill would amend the federal Public Health Service Act to do the following.

  • Require health insurers to cover the full cost of COVID-19 tests for any American with health insurance obtained through their employer, or individually purchased through an Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange. (Medicare has announced that it will fully cover the cost of a COVID-19 test ordered by a physician. Coverage for the testing of those receiving Medicaid benefits will be a state-by-state decision, according to Rep. DeGette’s news release.)
  • Add COVID-19 testing to the list of ACA “preventive health services” required to be covered at no cost to patients.
  • Exempt COVID-19 testing from the one-year waiting period that new preventive services must undergo before insurers are required to cover them cost-free under the ACA.

This legislation does not currently have a companion Senate bill. It has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill’s sponsors have indicated that—if not enacted separately—they hope to have these provisions added to any coronavirus legislation that is considered by Congress.