Coronavirus: Testing and Treatment is Covered by HDHPs

The IRS has issued Notice 2020-15, which allows high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to cover testing and treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) pre-deductible. This means coronavirus testing and treatment are considered a qualified medical expense under an HDHP, and people can use their health savings account (HSA) to pay for it. This urgent ruling may alleviate worries about HDHP deductibles deterring health savings accountholders from getting proper COVID-19 testing and care.

Due to the national health emergency coronavirus presents, this notice applies even to HDHPs that would otherwise be disqualified under section 223(c)(2)(A) – in other words, HDHPs offered by a health plan that provides other health benefits covering coronavirus testing and treatment, and HDHPs with a deductible that falls below the minimum requirement.

In addition, representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Donna Shalala (D-FL) introduced H.R. 6173, which requires health insurers to cover the full cost of coronavirus tests for any American who has health insurance through their employer or who purchased a health plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange. If this measure passes, coronavirus testing would be added to the ACA preventive care mandate list, which HDHPs must cover without cost-sharing.

In a statement published March 12th, Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the country’s largest insurance trade association, saying: “No one should hesitate to seek testing or care for COVID-19 because of cost. We thank the IRS for issuing this notice, which provides health insurance providers with more flexibility to respond to this public health emergency. As an essential part of our communities and their health care systems, health insurance providers are working closely with federal, state, and local leaders to ensure that together, we remove any existing barriers to containing and responding to COVID-19.” AHIP’s board, which includes the CEOs of some of the largest insurers, including Anthem, Cigna and Humana, committed to covering needed diagnostic testing and easing network, referral and prior authorization requirements or waiving cost-sharing for services related to the virus.

AHIP said it is also partnering with providers to ensure they have necessary data to identify, diagnose, and treat infections, while encouraging members to obtain care through virtual visit/telehealth services and at-home care to prevent further transmission of the virus.

Individuals participating in HDHPs or any other type of health plan should consult their particular health plan regarding the health benefits for testing and treatment of COVID-19 provided by the plan, including the potential application of any deductible or cost sharing.