A new mandate raises the question: who will pay for all the Covid tests?

Stimulated by a persistent high level Covid number of cases and only modest vaccination rates, Biden administration announced on Thursd...


Stimulated by a persistent high level Covid number of cases and only modest vaccination rates, Biden administration announced on Thursday a new effort to fight the pandemic. He intends to force workers in large companies to get vaccinated or undergo regular tests.

The rule applies to tens of millions of Americans, or about two-thirds of the nation’s workforce. And that raises a thorny question: who pays for these coronavirus tests?

Doctors typically charge around $ 50 to $ 100 for testing, so the costs for weekly testing can add up quickly. Federal law requires insurers to fully cover tests when ordered by a health care provider, but routine workplace testing is exempt from this provision.

“It’s really up to the employer,” said Sabrina Corlette, research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University. “They can force employees to foot the bill. “

Employers have so far considered a range of approaches, from assuming full costs to paying unvaccinated workers for all freight.

When the U.S. government offered regular testing for unvaccinated workers earlier this summer, it also announced that federal agencies would cover the costs of such screenings.

However, this plan will most likely be scrapped, as the Biden administration announced Thursday it would no longer allow millions of federal employees across the country to undergo vaccination tests. Instead, unvaccinated workers now have 75 days to get vaccinated before disciplinary proceedings can begin.

Among employers who took a different approach was Rhodes College in Tennessee: it required unvaccinated students without medical or religious exemptions to pay a fee of $ 1,500 per semester to cover the costs associated with a weekly coronavirus screening program.

Rhodes, a small liberal arts college, estimated that three-quarters of its employees were vaccinated.

Some employers have included workers in the costs of coronavirus testing. MGM Resorts, which owns numerous hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, charged a $ 15 copay for testing at an on-site clinic for unvaccinated workers. Workers had the option of being tested at an external supplier.

Many states and cities still have free coronavirus testing sites they started earlier in the pandemic. Long Beach, Calif., Required testing for unvaccinated municipal workers. In a statement to The Times in late July, the city said workers “will have the option to take their mandatory tests for free at the Long Beach Health Department.”

But many Americans also get tested at doctor’s offices and drugstores, which typically bill patients and their insurance for the service.

These disparate approaches could provide a menu of options for many workplaces that fall under the new federal rule, which applies to businesses with more than 100 employees. The Biden administration has asked the Department of Labor to draft a rule detailing the new mandate.

Federal law requires insurers to fully cover coronavirus tests ordered by health care providers, which means the doctor cannot apply a deductible or co-payment to the service. Rules written by the Trump administration and maintained in the Biden administration excluded routine workplace testing from this requirement.

In practice, insurers often end up covering employer-imposed tests – it’s hard to tell from a doctor’s bill whether a workplace has ordered the treatment – but they might start looking at cases of patients who suddenly have weekly claims for the same service.

“If they start to see a significant number of people undergo these tests every week, or twice a week, under federal law, they would be able to say that it looks like routine tests on the spot. working and not covering it up, ”said Georgetown’s Professor Corlette.

This means that unvaccinated workers who must get their own coronavirus test could have to pay their own costs. Some patients have faced surprise medical bills for coronavirus tests, which can range from a few dollars to over $ 1,000.

Some of these bills were the result of a test imposed by the employer. Last year the Times asked readers to send their medical bills for coronavirus testing and treatment, and reviewed several cases of surprise charges for a required workplace test.

That includes Marta Bartan, who needed a coronavirus test to return to a job last summer as a colorist in Brooklyn. Like time reported, she received a bill for $ 1,394 from a hospital operating a drive-thru site.

“I was so confused,” she said at the time. “You come in to get a Covid test hoping it’s free. What could they have charged me $ 1,400 for? “

Unvaccinated workers who fall under the new federal rule could benefit from another Biden initiative announced Thursday: a plan to make rapid viral tests more widely available.

This includes making home testing available at cost (i.e. no profit) from major retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, as well as providing free rapid tests at community centers. The White House announced that these cheaper tests will be available at online retailers “for up to 35% less from the end of this week.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: A new mandate raises the question: who will pay for all the Covid tests?
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