More Than 80 Groups Urge Companies to Waive All Patient Costs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – All health insurance corporations must waive all patient fees for care associated with COVID-19, including copays and deductibles, more than 80 health, consumer, labor and civil rights groups, including Public Citizen, said today in a letter to the largest 10 insurance companies.
Americans have been urged to seek medical help if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, but out-of-pocket costs could put insured patients into serious medical debt, or worse, deter them from seeking treatment at all – causing undue suffering and death, and exacerbating the pandemic.
Some insurers have made commitments of varying degrees to eliminate costs for coronavirus patients, but immediate commitment by all companies to waive all coronavirus patient costs in their plans is a critical step in tackling this public health emergency.
“It would be a cruel irony – and a public health disaster – if patients discover that, amid the worst pandemic our country has faced in a century, their insurance in fact does not cover the care we all need,” said Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign. “Everyone who needs treatment must receive it, regardless of their ability to pay.”
One third of Americans report that they or a family member avoided going to the doctor when sick or injured in the past year due to costs – meaning that many Americans put off care rather than risk medical debt and even bankruptcy. Forty percent of Americans do not have enough savings to pay for even a $400 emergency; the average health insurance deductible is between $1,800 and $6,500 per year.
The letter was sent to the largest 10 health insurers by market share: UnitedHealthCare, Kaiser Permanente, Anthem, Humana, Aetna, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), Centene, Cigna, Wellcare and Molina and urged the companies, if they have not already, to waive all patient costs for coronavirus-related treatment.