TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Intensive care unit beds in Kansas are filling up, and according to health officials, most of the people being hospitalized are unvaccinated. Now, according to a recent study, some of the top private insurance companies may be sticking patients with the bill.
A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, KFF, looked at 102 health plans, the largest two insurers in each state and D.C. 72% of those insurers, or about 73 plans, have already stopped waiving out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatment. An additional 10% of plans are reportedly phasing out waivers by the end of October.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, NAIC, has a list of actions states have taken on coronavirus-related issues.
A spokesperson for the Kansas Insurance Department told the Kansas Capitol Bureau on Wednesday that state law doesn’t require waiving of member cost share, also known as “out of pocket expenses,” for treatment of coronavirus.
“For Kansas this would be an insurer by insurer decision and it can change at any point so the insurers would be best positioned to answer the nuance of what they are doing because it may be different from one group to the next.”SPOKESPERSON, KANSAS INSURANCE DEPARTMENT
Federal law requires diagnostic testing and related items and services to be covered without member cost-share. The U.S. government has also ensured that vaccines are also available at no cost.
According to the state’s insurance department spokesperson, some insurers have voluntarily agreed to waive cost-sharing for coronavirus.
However, they said this is not as straightforward as it may seem. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, BCBSKS, waives the cost for fully insured individuals, but the self-funded plans act as administrative services only. The employer can choose whether to waive or not waive.
“Since the declaration of the declared public health pandemic, we have been covering the cost of COVID testing and treatment,” said Katrina McGivern, a BCBSKS spokesperson.
McGivern said the company will continue waiving treatment costs for their members until the federal state of emergency ends in October. She said they’re anticipating that it may be extended up to the end of this year. However, the organization encourages people to get vaccinated and follow other health protocols to avoid a trip to the hospital.
“Let’s do what we can to prevent COVID and prevent it from spreading, and keep everyone healthy.”