Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

Congress-Mandated Free COVID-19 Tests Still Come With Bills

Confusion over who is paying for COVID-19 testing is causing some hospitals to hold back billing. The questions are over self-funded insurance plans, the sort typically run by large companies with many hundreds of employees. While the insurance company managing the claims may be private, in self-funded plans, the money to pay them comes from the company. Now, some of these companies have decided their insurance plans are exempt from Congress’s mandate to make all COVID-19 testing and associated services copay-free.

As a result, large hospital systems like Duke Health in North Carolina have told Kaiser Health News, they’re not sending out bills yet, “citing a lack of clarity in what the patient is responsible for paying.” At UCLA in California, the practice is not to send out bills to patients, but to insurers, insisting that they cover the testing and related treatment.

The amount of money on the line is dramatically large: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tennessee, has held back more than $6 million since the pandemic measures came into place in mid-March. Surprise medical bills may be on the horizon for patients who thought the worst of their COVID-19 ordeal was over.

CVS Health Expands COVID-19 Test Sites Across Country

Residents of some areas hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic have found it difficult to access testing, and CVS Health is stepping in. Beginning May 22, the company is establishing the first of what will ultimately be as many as 1,000 locations offering COVID-19 testing. The first phase will be drive-through sites, with a goal of rapidly opening 900 more states in the next two weeks. CVS Health currently processes nearly 30,000 tests per week, according to a company press release.

People seeking testing must register in advance at CVS.com, and stay in their cars. They’ll be given a self-swab test and observed by a CVS Pharmacy team member to ensure the test is performed correctly. Test results will take approximately three days.

FierceHealthcare reports that CVS has worked with the National Medical Association, an organization of African American physicians, to identify communities which could need additional support during the pandemic crisis. The company utilized the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, which tracks indicators such as poverty, lack of transit, and crowded housing conditions, to pinpoint areas which may struggle to deal with medical outbreaks or natural disasters.

Many Americans Put Off Healthcare Due to COVID-19

A survey from the Alliance of Community Health Plans and the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy has found that more than 40% of respondents have delayed healthcare, felt uncomfortable going to the hospital for any treatment, or don’t want to go to an urgent care or walk-in clinic. 27% say they won’t go to a hospital for a diagnostic test.

On the other hand, 28% of respondents used some type of virtual care, an increase of nearly three times over previous surveys, and of those, 89% say they were satisfied with their virtual or Telehealth experience.

All in all, healthcare behavior has shifted in the United States: 72% of consumers have “dramatically changed their use of traditional healthcare services” as a result of COVID-19.

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