Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
Note: Following a Public Citizen report that found that seven health insurers’ offers of free coronavirus treatments were set to expire by June 1, all seven extended their deadlines to later in the year or until the end of the pandemic. However, other insurers’ offers of free care still are scheduled to end by July 1.
This pandemic has laid bare that profit trumps health care in America. Multibillion-dollar corporations, which report increased profits during this deadly pandemic, shouldn’t have to be publicly shamed into providing free care when it’s urgently needed. As we’ve already stated, all insurers should waive all fees for COVID-19 treatment and testing throughout the duration of the emergency and should prominently display language of the offer on their websites.
It’s also important to underscore that these belated insurer waivers are completely voluntary, which means insurers could renege at any point, leaving Americans with massive out-of-pocket bills. In addition, many insurers are providing waivers only for in-network treatment, so many Americans could face huge out-of-pocket costs and surprise bills if they receive out-of-network care because in-network facilities are overrun during the pandemic. Health care profiteers shouldn’t be given credit for doing the bare minimum.
Public Citizen will keep pressuring these insurers to extend their deadlines to the end of the pandemic. But relying on these voluntary commitments will not solve the problem. Thus, we urge Congress to pass the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act and the Medicare Crisis Program Act to ensure that Americans can get the care they need during this historic crisis.