The providers of commercial health plans in Minnesota have agreed to waive all treatment costs relating to COVID-19 until at least May 31.
Health plans had already been offering coronavirus testing free from co-pays, but Gov. Tim Walz announced on Thursday that those with commercial insurance will no longer foot a bill if they're hospitalized because of the virus – provided the hospital is in-network.
It comes after Walz and the Commissioners of Health and Commerce, Jan Malcolm and Steve Kelley, sent a letter to health insurers on March 13 urging them to "remove barriers to coverage" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, Gov. Walz that those with individual, small business and some large business plans will be eligible for the following benefits:
- No cost-sharing charges for COVID testing.
- Those hospitalized will have no cost-sharing charges for in-network hospitalization.
- Expanded access to telemedicine services, helping people stay home and access care.
The health plan providers that have agreed to this include Blue Cross and Blue Shield Minnesota, HealthPartners, Hennepin Health, Medica, PreferredOne, and UCare.
Walz notes that some of those who get self-insured coverage through their employers aren't covered by this as the state doesn't have authority over the plans, "but are encouraging employers to work with their plan administrators to implement similar measures."
"This move will help ensure no Minnesotan has to sacrifice paying rent or buying groceries to cover a hospital bill from COVID-19," said Governor Walz.
"I’m grateful Minnesota’s health plans are putting the health and safety of our fellow Minnesotans first during this pandemic.”
Kelley said this was "an important step" towards protecting Minnesotans, saying nobody should experience fear or anxiety over seeking medical help for the coronavirus should their symptoms be severe enough.
But he added that the state will continue to work with health plans so that they can look to cover out-of-network care as well in the near future.
"We do recognize that if situation were to get worse that some Minnesotans may have to be moved to an out-of-network hospital ... and the plans have not made a commitment on that at this stage of the game," said Kelley.
"We continue to work with the plan to make sure if we get into situation where more Minnesotans may be taken care of in out-of-network hospitals that the plans are recognizing that's not a choice but a necessity arising from the pandemic and we'll continue to work with them to ensure there are no costs resulting from that."