By Consumers For Quality Care, on April 7, 2020
For Immediate Release
Date: April 6, 2020
Washington, D.C. – As governments, businesses and consumers across the United States address the coronavirus epidemic, Consumers for Quality Care (CQC) today issued a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national association for health care insurers, urging all health insurers to waive patient cost-sharing for medical costs related to coronavirus testing and treatment.
“CQC-Ipsos research shows that two in three Americans struggle with predicting how much they will have to pay for health care when they need it,” the CQC board wrote to AHIP. They continued, “The COVID-19 crisis has brought this fear of unpredictable and unaffordable out-of-pocket costs to the forefront. With tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of people across the United States expected to be hospitalized for COVID-19, consumers are worried about how they will pay for the costs of care and treatment if they are diagnosed.”
CQC is a coalition of advocates and former policy makers with a mission to ensure patients – and their right to high-quality health care – remain at the front of health care policy. As we all navigate the uncharted waters of the coronavirus epidemic together, that mission is more important than ever.
Below is the full text of CQC’s letter to AHIP.
Subject: Expand Consumer Relief for Coronavirus Testing and Treatment
To Whom it May Concern:
As patient advocates fighting to give consumers a voice in the health care debate, we welcome the news that a few insurers are waiving patient cost-sharing for many of the medical costs related to coronavirus treatment, including hospitalization. With more than 900 companies offering medical coverage in the United States, there is much more progress to be made.
We urge you to work with your member companies to ensure that all health insurers waive patient cost-sharing of all medical costs associated with COVID-19 treatment – including vaccines and medications when they become available.
Consumers have long been deeply frustrated by unpredictable costs and the lack of transparency in health care. CQC-Ipsos research shows that two in three Americans struggle with predicting how much they will have to pay for health care when they need it. They fear health care costs even more than they worry about costs associated with retirement, college, housing or childcare.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought this fear of unpredictable and unaffordable out-of-pocket costs to the forefront. With tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of people across the United States expected to be hospitalized for COVID-19, consumers are worried about how they will pay for the costs of care and treatment if they are diagnosed. The average cost of COVID-19 treatments for employer-insured consumers is estimated to be just under $10,000 without additional complications. More complicated treatments could be double that amount. The prevalence of high-deductible insurance plans and co-pays and co-insurance will mean that exponentially more Americans will be burdened by long-term medical debt if insurers don’t act now.
Stories are already beginning to trickle out about patients with insurance incurring high out-of-pocket costs. For example, Andrew Cencini, a computer science professor making just over $50,000 a year, faces nearly $2,000 in out-of-pocket bills for his visit to the emergency department and his (negative) coronavirus test. Patients avoiding testing and treatment to escape unaffordable treatment bills will only serve to make the outbreak worse for all Americans.
American consumers shouldn’t have to worry about financial ruin as a result of coronavirus testing and treatment on top of the many other health and economic worries brought on by this worldwide crisis. We ask that you issue guidance to your members to help ease the fears and potential severe financial distress of American health care consumers by waiving cost-sharing for all coronavirus-related testing and treatment.
Consumers for Quality Care Board
Hon. Donna Christensen, M.D.
Consumers for Quality Care (CQC) is a coalition of advocates and former policy makers working to provide a voice for patients in the health care debate as they demand better care. CQC is led by a board of directors that includes the Honorable Donna Christensen, physician and former Member of Congress; Jim Manley, former senior advisor to Senators Edward Kennedy and Harry Reid; and Jason Resendez, community advocate and Executive Director of the LatinosAgainstAlzheimer’s Coalition.