On March 30, 2020, Cigna and Humana announced that they will be waiving the costs associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment. The week prior, CVS Health had announced that Aetna will be waiving cost-sharing associated with COVID-19 hospital admissions. With these changes in effect, enrollees of these health plans will not have to satisfy their deductible before the insurer pays a greater share of their health care costs. Aetna and Cigna have agreed to waive cost-sharing through June 1, 2020, though Humana’s policy does not have an end date.
While these commitments will delight some consumers, others may not be as pleased, as those covered by employer-sponsored health plans administered by these insurers will only be eligible to have their cost-sharing waived if their employers decide to extend that benefit to them. Patients who are unable to obtain a coronavirus test would similarly be ineligible, which could be an insurmountable barrier for many people because coronavirus test kits are not readily available. The decision to waive cost-sharing for some consumers will certainly improve the ability for patients to recover from COVID-19 if they become exposed to the virus, but the coronavirus pandemic has revealed several other gaps in the U.S. health care system that will need to be addressed. Even though diagnostics, preventive care, and treatment of COVID-19 are now all free for some consumers, too many Americans will be unable to receive the care they need to stay healthy as coronavirus tests the nation.