Montana’s four largest health insurance companies are voluntarily waiving customer costs for coronavirus testing.
"It’s just the right thing to do," says Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana spokesman, John Doran. "There’s a lot of scare in communities across Montana and, of course, across the nation about COVID. Obviously, the best medicine is prevention."
Experts say widespread testing of people at risk of COVID-19, caused by a member of the coronavirus family, is needed to prevent rapid spread of the virus. Fees associated with those tests may have deterred some from getting tested if they developed symptoms, which include fever and a dry cough.
Blue Cross along with PacificSource Health Plans are waiving the fees in their policies and are consulting with their self-funded employer groups to see if they wish to do the same.
The Montana Health Co-op and Allegiance Life & Health Insurance are waiving all out-of-pocket costs for prescribed testing.
Even if coronavirus testing is free, patients may still be responsible for expenses related to treatment. Costs for those services would depend on insurance coverage.
Montana is reporting no cases of coronavirus. The state health department has tested 21 people for the
COVID-19 illness. All 21 returned negative results. Three people remain under monitoring. Twenty-six have completed the monitoring process by public health officials.
The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and staying home if you’re sick.
Updated March 10, 2020, 5:20 p.m.
This post was updated with coronavirus testing numbers for Montana.