Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Emergency COVID-19 insurance orders extended into April

by Staff report
| March 25, 2022 1:00 AM

OLYMPIA– Two emergency orders issued relating to COVID-19 have been extended until April 28, according to a press release from the Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

One order issued by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler requires health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for COVID-19. The other is designed to protect consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19.

Kreidler's order waiving cost-sharing applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term, limited-duration medical plans, according to the release. The order on surprise billing applies to both in-state and out-of-state laboratories when a provider orders diagnostic testing for COVID-19.

Also, insurers must continue to allow a one-time early refill for prescription drugs and suspend any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19. In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost.

Kreidler’s power to issue the orders stems from the statewide emergency proclaimed by Gov. Jay Inslee. When the governor issues an emergency proclamation, the commissioner can issue an emergency order related to health care coverage to ensure access to care, the release said. The order can be extended by the commissioner for 30 days at a time as long as the governor’s emergency proclamation remains in effect.

“Consumers are rightly concerned about prevention, testing and possible treatment,” Kreidler said in the release. “My emergency order provides guidance to health insurers and should help reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to protect them.”

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