AUGUSTA, Maine — People covered by Maine’s three biggest private health insurance providers will not have to pay any costs associated with coronavirus testing.
Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim and Aetna — who collectively represent the majority of residents covered under large group plans, defined as plans with 101 or more employees — will waive all cost-sharing measures like copays and deductibles associated with testing.
Anthem and Harvard Pilgrim also make up the majority of the small-group plan market, while MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid, will also cover testing and related services. No one has tested positive for the virus in Maine yet, making it the last state in New England without a recorded case.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, is waiting to see how the state-regulated insurers are handling associated costs before deciding whether the state needs to step in, as other states have done, said spokesperson Lindsay Crete. New York, Washington and California have ordered insurers to cover costs and waive cost sharing items.
“She believes that the health, safety, and welfare of Maine people is the top priority and that costs should not be a barrier to preventing and mitigating the spread of the virus,” Crete said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are not billing patients for testing. But other costs may still apply depending on your insurer, leading some to fear that pricey medical bills will prevent people from getting tested as the virus continues to spread.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has still ramped up its response, dedicating 30 full-and-part time employees to preparing for the possibility of a first case. Testing for the virus recently began at a state lab with initial results expected on Tuesday. Mills has convened a team of agency leaders tasked with coordinating the state’s response.
Maine Bureau of Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa said in a statement that those who do not know if their insurance is covering the costs should expect to pay copays for doctor visits. He said members should check to see if their insurer will require doctors to order testing before providing coverage.
Insurers aligned the with lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans, which includes members including Cigna and Anthem, announced last week that members would waive the cost of testing as long as the test was ordered by a doctor.
It’s unclear whether the Maine Legislature will take action to provide coverage for those who are under-or-uninsured. Representatives for House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, and Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.