Warner, Kaine: Waive costs that may prevent coronavirus patients from care
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are urging health insurers and federal and state officials to eliminate cost burdens that could disincentivize people with coronavirus symptoms from seeking testing and treatment for the contagious illness.
“We are fortunate that to date there have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Virginia,” the senators wrote in several letters today to Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Ralph Northam, the Virginia Association of Health Plans and the State Corporation Commission, which regulate various health care plans in Virginia.
“While public health officials have warned us to expect the virus to spread, we must work to contain the virus as much as possible. In order to limit the spread of this deadly disease, we must ensure that at-risk individuals seek medical care as soon as possible – and that potential cost burdens are not a deterrent to seeking diagnosis and treatment. In Virginia, about 10 percent of residents lack any form of medical insurance. Among the insured, many individuals still face high deductibles and additional out-of-pocket costs that could be a deterrent to seeking medical care in a timely fashion.”
The letter continued: “It is uncertain what the entirety of patient costs associated with COVID-19 may be, but we have already seen disturbing reports of patients left with enormous bills after appropriately and responsibly seeking medical care. In Miami, a patient with healthcare insurance returned from China and sought medical treatment for flu-like symptoms, but still received a $3,270 dollar medical bill after his hospitalization. An American who was evacuated from Wuhan received a $3,918 in medical bills after he and his 3-year-old daughter were required to spend several days in an isolation unit at a local children’s hospital. If patients fear the financial consequences of seeking appropriate screening, treatment and quarantine, it will severely handicap the government’s ability to control the spread of this virus.”
- A copy of the letter to Vice President Mike Pence can be found here.
- A copy of the letter to Gov. Ralph Northam can be found here.
- A copy of the letter to the Virginia Association of Health Plans can be found here.
- A copy of the letter to the State Corporation Commission can be found here.