KEY POINTS

  • Six people have died due to coronavirus in the U.S.
  • NY Governor Cuomo has asked insurers to waive cost-sharing for virus testing
  • Insurers are also expected to cover the cost of immunization when it becomes available

At least six people have died from the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 in the United States and the number of cases is on the rise.

A 39-year-old healthcare worker has tested positive for the virus in New York City and has self-quarantined in her Manhattan apartment. She is expected to have contracted it because of traveling to Iran.

As the outbreak gets intense, healthcare measures also need to be ramped, specifically coronavirus tests, which will help in containing the spread of the disease. While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is not charging for testing, there are other charges a person may have to pay to get tested, such as a hospital stay until the test results come in or tests for other viruses.

 This may end up costing over $3,000, according to a notice received by a patient suspected of having coronavirus, who ended having only the flu. This can act as a deterrent and stop people from reporting the virus altogether.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has come out with a solution to this problem. He has issued a notice to insurance providers, instructing them to waive cost-sharing for the virus testing.

"We have the best health-care system in the world, and we are leveraging that system including our state-of-the-art Wadsworth testing lab to help contain any potential spread of the novel Coronavirus in New York. Containing this virus depends on us having the facts about who has it - and these measures will break down any barriers that could prevent New Yorkers from getting tested," Cuomo posted on the State Governor’s official website.

This arrangement would cover the costs for a low-cost emergency room, urgent care and hospital visits for the suspected patients. Cuomo also added that New Yorkers receiving Medicaid coverage will not be expected to also cover co-pay for any testing associated with COVID-19. All tests are being done at the Wadsworth Lab located in the state are fully covered too.

The state also requires insurers to inform consumers of the benefits, provide telehealth services and prepare for an increase in demand for such tests. They will also be required to cover the cost of immunizations when they become available and expand access to prescription drugs.

However, there is one crucial element that is lacking in Cuomo’s plan — how to provide testing to people who have not been covered by insurance? They may become potential carriers of the disease. But, despite the flaw, the plan seems like a much-needed initiative at a time, when the country is increasingly engaged in the battle to contain the fatal virus.

Cuomo PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 28: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) gestures to the crowd as he arrives on stage to deliver remarks on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images