WA extends emergency order on COVID billing, testing

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has extended two emergency orders. His order requiring health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and his order protecting consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19 are both extended until Sept. 5, 2021.

Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.

Kreidler’s order waiving cost-sharing applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term, limited-duration medical plans. 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:

  • Allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
  • Suspending 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.

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

Kreidler is using powers granted to him following the statewide emergency that Gov. Jay Inslee declared to protect Washington residents against the spread of the coronavirus.

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 order can be extended by the commissioner for 30 days at a time as long as the governor’s emergency proclamation remains in effect.