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Cuomo announces new directives to keep cost from being a factor for New Yorkers in need of coronavirus testing

Photo via Flickr/Governor Cuomo

Governor Cuomo is making sure that cost isn’t a factor for those who need to be tested for coronavirus and fear that they can’t afford it.

On March 2, the governor announced that a new directive will be put into place that requires New York health insurers to waive cost sharing associated with testing for novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. This will include emergency room, urgent care and office visits. The State Department of Financial Services will prohibit imposing cost-sharing on an in-network provider office visit or urgent care center as well as in emergency rooms when the purpose of the visit is to be tested for coronavirus.

Those who have health insurance under Medicaid will not have to pay a co-pay for any testing related to COVID-19.

These measures were put in place so cost would not have to be a barrier for coronavirus testing. All COVID-19 tests being conducted at the State’s Wadsworth Lab are fully covered.

“We have the best health-care system in the world, and we are leveraging that system including our state-of-the-art Wadsworth testing lab to help contain any potential spread of the novel coronavirus in New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “Containing this virus depends on us having the facts about who has it – and these measures will break down any barriers that could prevent New Yorkers from getting tested.”  

The state is also putting forth a series of actions that health insurers will be required to carry out, including keeping New Yorkers informed regarding available benefits; offering, where possible, telehealth medical advice and treatment; and preparing insurers to cover the costs if a COVID-19 immunization should become available. Health insurers will also have to cover off-formulary prescription drugs if there is not a formulary drug available to treat the insured.

The state also stated that health insurers are not allowed to require a patient to seek preauthorization prior to seeking emergency care, including for ambulance service, or give patients a surprise bill later for coronavirus testing.

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