The New York Times is investigating the costs associated with coronavirus testing, treatment and vaccination. You can read more about the project and submit your medical bills Here.
The Biden administration reminds doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and insurers that it is illegal to bill patients for coronavirus vaccines. a letter obtained from The Times show.
The new notice responds to concerns among unvaccinated Americans who could receive a bill with their shot. TO recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about a third of unvaccinated adults were unsure whether insurance covered the new vaccine.
“We recognize that there are costs associated with vaccine administration, from staff training to vaccine storage,” wrote Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services, in a letter to vaccinators and insurers. “For these expenses, providers cannot bill patients but can claim reimbursement through Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, or other applicable coverage.”
The letter warns that billing patients could lead to state or federal “enforcement”, but does not specify what the penalty would be.
The federal government wrote strong consumer protections to ensure that patients do not have to pay for coronavirus vaccines.
In last spring’s stimulus legislation, it banned insurers from charging patients fees or deductibles for vaccines. The same law also created a fund that would cover the costs of vaccinating uninsured Americans.
Layered on top of those legislative protections are the contracts doctors and hospitals have signed to receive the vaccines. These documents specify that vaccinators cannot bill patients for the service.
Stronger protections seem to have worked. While many patients have encountered the coronavirus test invoices, there were only a handful of vaccines.
However, the rules are not foolproof, and some patients have faced illegal charges. In April, the Inspector General’s Office of Health and Human Services published a letter saying it was “aware of patient complaints about charges from suppliers when they received their Covid-19 vaccines.”
Some patients have submitted bills showing surprise charges to a Times project collect patient bills for tests, treatments and vaccinations. Fees range from $ 20 to $ 850. If you have received an invoice for your coronavirus vaccine, you can send it Here.
Patients who receive bills for coronavirus vaccines can dispute the charge. Those with health insurance can contact their plan to ask why they received a bill when two federal laws – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES law – outlawed.
A small subset of health plans are exempt from the laws. These “antiquated” plans existed before the Affordable Care Act and are not subject to the requirements to fully cover the coronavirus vaccine or any other preventative service.
But even those patients are still protected by the contract that the doctors signed excluding any billing. Doctors can send pending expenses to a new one Coverage Assistance Fund created by the Biden administration last month specifically to fill gaps in patient coverage.
Uninsured patients can ask their providers to bill the Covid-19 program without insurance, which was set up to cover those without coverage.
If an insurer or doctor is unwilling to reverse a bill, patients can seek help from state regulatory authorities. State departments of insurance they typically deal with complaints that health plans do not adequately cover medical care, while state attorneys general tend to file complaints about possible inadequate bills from doctors and hospitals.