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Highmark, UPMC Picking Up The Bill For COVID-19 Testing

Sarah Boden
90.5 WESA News
Urgent Care room at UPMC Shadyside.

The two dominant health insurers in western Pennsylvania are picking up the bill for COVID-19 testing, when recommended by a medical professional.

In an emailed statement, Highmark said this was to “address the spread of the coronavirus and bring peace of mind to our members.”

UPMC said it wants to remove barriers that might delay and prevent patients from receiving “appropriate diagnosis and treatment in this challenging time.”

Both Highmark and UPMC said that self-insured employer groups that contract with the companies for administrative services will have the option to opt-out and require individuals to pay for testing.

UPMC said that commercial testing is expected to start over the weekend. Allegheny Health Network, the health system that shares a parent company with Highmark, said that it’s “assessing the capabilities…to determine when it might be feasible to do so.” Up to now, any COVID-19 tests from the Pittsburgh area have been analyzed at the state health department laboratory in Chester County.

Connecticut-based health insurer Aetna is also waiving all out-of-pocket or cost-sharing for COVID-19 diagnostics. A number of PNC and city of Pittsburgh employees have Aetna health insurance.

If someone believes they may be infected with coronavirus, they are encouraged to call before arriving at a doctor’s office, urgent care or ER. This way medical staff have time to prepare for a potentially infectious patient.

There are two presumed postive coronavirus cases in Delaware and Wayne counties, located in eastern Pennsylvania. Both people are isolated at home, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the process of confirming these results. 

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that a local married couple are in quaratine after disembarking from the Star Princess cruise ship, where some passengers were infected with coronavirus. 

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.
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