Canan Emcan, 31, chief nurse of the infection and virologist ward of the university clinic of Essen closes a sample of a smear test to be used in case of coronavirus patients during a media event in Essen, Germany on March 5, 2020. Photo credit: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Texas wants health insurers to waive costs of diagnosing the new coronavirus

The state of Texas is asking health insurers to waive costs related to diagnosing the coronavirus as officials across the country work to contain the spread of the virus.

“We must ensure no Texan is denied access to testing resources relating to coronavirus,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement Tuesday. “The State of Texas is unwavering in our commitment to protecting the health and safety of all Texans.”

Abbott and the Texas Department of Insurance are requesting that insurers and health maintenance organizations that do business in Texas waive diagnosis-related costs such as testing and telemedicine visits. Eleven have already started waiving some costs, with more to join them in the coming days, according to the governor’s office.

The waived costs would apply to state-regulated insurance plans, which cover 16% of Texans. Roughly one-third of Texans with private insurance have state-regulated plans.

Texans covered by such plans should have “TDI” or “DOI” printed on their insurance cards.

The move by Texas comes after an announcement from the Trump administration last week that federally regulated health insurance, including private plans, Medicare and Medicaid, are required to pay for COVID-19 testing.

In Texas, as of Tuesday, there have been 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, including 11 cases where people were traveling overseas and forced by the federal government to quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Most of the cases involve people who official say traveled overseas.

Author: PATRICK SVITEKThe Texas Tribune

Edgar Walters contributed reporting.