Private health insurance plans have largely stopped waiving patient cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment, according to a recent report by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
The survey, released Aug. 19, follows up on previous research analyzing health plans’ cost-sharing policies earlier in the pandemic. It found that “[i]n the last few months, the environment has shifted with safe and highly effective vaccines now widely available.”
Gathering data until Aug. 12, researchers identified the two largest health plans in each state and the District of Columbia, covering 102 plans that all had waived cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment “at some point since 2020.” They found:
72% of those insurers were no longer waiving COVID-19 treatment costs, and another 10% are phasing out waivers by October.
Nineteen plans are waiving cost-sharing beyond October, but 12 of those plans say their cost-sharing waivers will expire by the end of 2021.
Of the other seven plans, two specified end dates for cost-sharing waivers in 2022. Five did not specify an expiration date.
The data painted a considerably different picture from what research Peterson-KFF released in late 2020, when it found that 88% of enrollees in fully insured private health plans had a plan that, at some point, had waived cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment.
The new report noted that last year, health insurers “may have wanted to be sympathetic toward COVID-19 patients, and some may have also feared the possibility of a federal mandate to provide care free-of-charge to COVID-19 patients, so they voluntarily waived these costs for at least some period of time during the pandemic.”
The Texas Medical Association helps you stay informed on changing payment policies – COVID-19-related and otherwise – from all major payers, commercial and government. Check out TMA’s Health Plan News page regularly for the latest on payer policy announcements.