In another sign that neither your health insurance company nor Donald Trump gives one darn about your health, insurers have convinced Trump to declare that insurers don’t have to pay for expensive coronavirus testing when employers require workers to get tested before returning to work:
Last week, Trump officials issued the guidance declaring that health insurance companies are not required to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing for employment purposes under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The legislation was passed by Congress to prevent patients from dealing with co-pays or out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus tests.
The new guidance provided by the US Labor Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Treasury Department says that insurers only need to pay for tests that are determined to be “medically appropriate” by a health care provider.
That loophole could allow insurers to avoid covering the costs of back-to-work tests. The bills will likely fall on businesses — or workers, if their employers don’t want to pay. The costs of tests can be quite expensive, ranging from about $150 all the way up to $7,000, according to Politico.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobby for major health insurers in DC, recently commissioned a study showing that COVID-19 testing costs could add up to between $11 billion and $44 billion a year. That’s potentially a big enough sum to affect insurers’ profits, even as they save money from people avoiding medical care and elective procedures as much as possible [Andrew Perez, “The Trump Administration Wants Workers to Foot the Bill for Going Back to Work,” Jacobin, 2020.06.29].
Trump pressures businesses to prematurely reopen and save his electoral bacon, leading to a disastrous spike in coronavirus cases. When employers and workers try to act responsibly and at least determine who’s got coronavirus before bringing operations back online, Trump dumps the costs of testing on those businesses and their workers while reducing federal support for testing.
One way or the other, Trump is determined to crush the working class.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s coronavirus plan includes establishing at least ten mobile coronavirus testing sites and drive-through facilities per state, providing daily public reports on the number of tests given, and making tests free for everyone who needs them. Biden would provide federal funding for coronavirus tests for workers called back to their jobs:
“We need all the things that need to be done to make sure you are safe, your customers and safe and your employees are safe is, in the meantime paid for by the federal government,” Biden said, with his mask dangling from his ear as he talked. “This is a crisis. If we don’t do that, it’s going to cost the government a lot more down the road” [Sam Gringlas, “Biden Outlines Plan to Restart Economy, Including Testing Every Worker,” NPR, 2020.06.11].
If you want a President who cares about workers and takes seriously our public responsibility to protect each other, you need to show up this fall and vote for new leadership.