Skip to main content

Minnesota health insurers won't charge you for a coronavirus test, but they might for an office visit

Getting tested for COVID-19 might not be free even if you're fully insured.
The drive-up COVID-19 testing service now being offered by M Fairview Health.

The drive-up COVID-19 testing service now being offered by M Fairview Health.

While efforts are being made to ensure that Americans aren't charged for getting tested for the COVID-19 virus and subsequent treatment, it's emerging that it won't entirely be cost-free for some insured Minnesotans.

BMTN has found that some of the state's biggest insurers, while waiving the cost of lab testing to determine a coronavirus infection, will still levy copays and cost-sharing on its members for office or urgent care visits relating to the tests.

It comes despite Vice President Mike Pence announcing an agreement on Tuesday with health insurers that copays for COVID-19 testing and treatment would be waived, and coverage would extend to include the virus on all plans as well as to cover telemedicine, in addition to Medicare and Medicaid covering all testing and treatment.

Insurers have also agreed to "no surprise billing," though details are still to emerge about that.

In Minnesota, five of the state's largest insurers have said they will be waiving the cost of all diagnostic testing relating to COVID-19 for its members.

However only three major insurers – HealthPartners, PreferredOne and UCare – have said they are waiving office visit costs as well as the cost of testing for COVID-19, while two have said they will still charge for office visits, and one has not confirmed either way.

BlueCross BlueShield: Is waiving the cost of the COVID-19 test, but will still charge copays/cost-sharing for office visits related to the test.

HealthPartners: Is waiving the cost of both the COVID-19 lab test – regardless of where it's performed – and the cost of the office or urgent care visit associated with the test.

Medica: Co-pays, co-insurances and deductibles waived for COVID-19 testing for fully-insured group, individual and Medicare members, but will still apply copay/cost-sharing for the office visit.

UnitedHealth Group: Waiving all member cost sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing "provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines" for all commercial insured, Medicaid and Medicare members, and is "supporting self-insured customers choosing to implement similar actions." Has not said if it will waive the cost of office visits.

UCare Minnesota: UCare told us it is waiving copays, coinsurance or deductibles for doctor-ordered COVID-19 tests meeting CDC guidelines. It eventually told BMTN that it will also cover copays, coinsurance or deductibles for "for medically necessary clinic and urgent care services received at the visit when a COVID-19 test is administered at an in-network clinic, and at out-of-network clinics if in-network alternatives are not available."

PreferredOne: Is waiving the cost of COVID-19-related lab testing, as well as the member cost shared for the office, urgent care, or telehealth visit, and is providing the same option to its self-funded employer groups.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

M Health Fairview launches drive-up testing

Amid growing concern over the lack of testing for COVID-19 being seen across the U.S., with the federal government struggling to produce enough testing kits after initially sending out kits that later turned out to be flawed, one Twin Cities health organization is trying to make diagnosis easier.

M Health Fairview has launched drive-up COVID-19 testing at four of its clinic locations, which it says will minimize the exposure for both patients and healthcare workers.

The system has been used to great effect in South Korea, which has been able to cut down on new COVID-19 cases by conducting huge numbers of tests to identify and isolate sick patients.

In order to get tested, patients need to call ahead to M Health Fairview and be screened by their health care provider or use OnCare, Fairview's 24/7 online care portal, to see if testing is needed.

The process of the test itself can be done at curbside, with nose and mouth swabs taken from patients, with the test taking less than 10 minutes.

Next Up


Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 2.12.05 PM

Changes at K102's Chris Carr & Company, with Sam Sansevere joining as co-host

She is the daughter of former KQRS morning show personality Bob Sansevere.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 1.16.21 PM

Minneapolis' Royal Foundry Craft Spirits announces closure

The distillery set out to infuse the Minneapolis craft cocktail scene with British flavor.


Shutterfly to cut almost 100 jobs at Shakopee facility

The layoffs are expected to impact multiple positions within the company.


Hospital bed

Gov. Walz: MN health plans to waive all cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment

The governor and health officials sent a letter asking health insurers to waive treatment costs.

Gov. Walz, MNsure re-open enrollment period for health insurance

It's to help anyone without health insurance during the COVID-19 crisis.

covid-19 testing site sign

Here are the 4 free COVID-19 testing sites in MN for the week of Nov. 2

People don't need to have symptoms or insurance to get tested for free.


M Health Fairview closes drive-up COVID-19 testing centers

It comes after the Department of Health placed restrictions on who can get tested.

coronavirus, covid-19, drive-thru testing

Here are the 4 free COVID-19 testing sites in MN for the week of Oct. 19

People don't need to have symptoms or insurance to get tested for free.

covid test 5

Biden Admin: Home COVID tests will soon be covered by insurance

The tests will be free with insurance starting Saturday.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here are the 4 free COVID-19 testing sites in MN for the week of Nov. 8

People don't need to have symptoms or insurance to get tested for free.

covid saliva test

Mail order COVID-19 saliva testing now available statewide

MDH has also announced the opening of 11 more COVID-19 testing sites.