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Trump Lets Insurers Abandon Workers on Coronavirus Test Costs

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.


  1. Chris S. 2020-06-30 08:26

    Another cheerful thought: Survivors of Covid-19 now have a pre-existing condition that insurance companies will use to deny them coverage in the future. All hail our glorious health care system!

  2. jason 2020-06-30 12:34

    Biden does not support health care as a human right. Biden does not support Medicaid/Medicare for All. Biden is part of the problem.
    Imagine, in the middle of a global pandemic, refusing to support universal health care. That is Joe Biden.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-06-30 14:32

    Biden, like Obama, will work to protect health care for all Americans. Four more years of Trump in office will deny more Americans access to health care. I believe health care is a human right; I thus have a moral obligation to vote for the candidate who will do the most good and least harm to our ability to enjoy that right. That candidate is Biden.

  4. Debbo 2020-06-30 17:57

    Biden does support a public option in the health care system. I think that enough public pressure can be brought to bear to make universal health care a reality, if not by President Biden, then his Democratic successor.

  5. jerry 2020-06-30 22:19

    Biden supports a Medicare Like public option. This will work and it will get reluctant former trumpian’s on board to make it work! This was done with the Bush mandate regarding Medicare Part D to bring both sides together to make it work.

    “DES MOINES, Iowa — Call Vice President Joe Biden’s healthcare plan Affordable Care Act 2.0.

    In his new plan released on Monday, Biden proposes adding a “Medicare-like” public option that would serve as an option for consumers to receive health insurance. Americans would also be able to choose their own private insurance and would now only spend a lower income rate to obtain it.

    Biden campaign officials say the health care plan serves as a transitional piece of legislation that could pave the path to a Medicare-for-All single payer system in the future.”

  6. jerry 2020-06-30 22:36

    Nordstrom’s laying off thousands and closing some stores. These guys will need some of that ACA/Obamacare right quick like.

    “Nordstrom is laying off thousands of workers, including a large number from its corporate operations in Seattle, as it copes with pandemic-related losses, according to a former employee and reports in a trade journal.

    A Nordstrom spokesperson acknowledged Monday that the Seattle-based retailer is “realigning and reducing our workforce to support our market strategy,” without giving any specifics.

    But a veteran Nordstrom worker who had just been laid off from a corporate unit in Seattle said Tuesday the retailer had cut 6,000 jobs nationally in June. The worker’s division lost around 30% of its staff, said the employee, who had been with Nordstrom for more than a decade.”

    Man, it’s difficult to see why republicans are celebrating there being such losers and with the head loser as well. All of this keeps up and we will surely hit 50 million unemployed, we’re getting there now.

  7. Debbo 2020-07-01 00:03

    There are so many smaller places closing too. Minneapolis has/had a well regarded plethora of nice eating and drinking establishments. Another one closes every day. I don’t know what those people are going to do.

    Kim Bartman owned 7 restaurants in the metro and she’s had to permanently close them all. There were 3 Cowboy Jacks, all closed, on and on it goes. It’s the same everywhere. Theaters, movie and live are rolling up. Art galleries, museums.

    Even big ones like the Minneapolis Institute of Art, an enormous and well endowed museum has chopped off at least half the work force. The Guthrie Theatre, where shows come for previews before hitting Broadway, is down by half as well.

    It’s happening in Denver, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Omaha, Des Moines. What are all these people going to do? They’ve got children, elderly parents, disabled siblings, lots of responsibilities. The Democrats have workable plans and the House has sent them to Moscow Mitch’s desk.

    What is the GOP plan? Approve more judges, see what Pootie wants, block Democratic efforts, cover up, get reelected, commit election fraud.

    If things don’t change there’s going to be a lot of suffering and it belongs directly at the feet of the cold and cruel GOP.

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