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Gavin Newsom
CA Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Californians Can Now Be Tested for Coronavirus for Free

State approves free medically necessary testing for 24 million Californians

By Evan Symon, March 7, 2020 8:02 am

On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Department of Insurance, and the California Department of Managed Care announced that people who think they contracted the coronavirus would receive free testing.

Under the testing plan, all commercial and Medi-Cal health plans would have their cost-sharing brought down to zero if deemed necessary by their respective provider, covering a total of 22 million people. The Department of Insurance would cover an additional 2 million people. The plan eliminates all extant fees, including co-pays, lab work, deductibles, and emergency room cost-sharing. Statements by the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance further clarified what ‘immediately reducing cost-sharing to zero’ meant for people seeking testing.

Not wanting to turn away possible infected people or having infected people decide not to go because of healthcare costs, the state decided that it could contain the virus best by waiving fees and costs related to coronavirus testing.

“Californians shouldn’t have to fear a big medical bill just because they took a test for COVID-19,” said Governor Newsom in a statement. “This action means that Californians who fit the testing requirements can receive the test at no cost. We’re all in this together, and I’m grateful to those health providers who have already stepped up and heeded our call.”

The California Health and Human Services Agency also offered details on the coronavirus plans.

CHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. (CHHS)

“This action will ensure that Californians who need a test will receive one at no cost,” stated secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) Dr. Mark Ghaly. “This doesn’t mean every Californian should be seeking a test. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19 or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care.”

The announcement by Newsom and state agencies came less than 24 hours after Newsom declared a state of emergency in California over the COVID-19 coronavirus after the virus claimed it’s first death in the state. California became the third state, following New York and Washington state, to implement such insurance measures.

“It’s not a tax thing or a money thing,” clarified Dr. Emilio Reyes, a doctor currently on the lookout for cases in the Los Angeles area. “This is a health concern. We don’t want to scare people away because of the cost of anything. If you think you may have come into contact with it, this is a cost-free way of making sure. This way we have a much better chance of not missing anyone.”

“No place on Earth wants their own version of typhoid Mary right around now after all. As long as we’re calm and cautious, we’ll be ok.”

327 people have been infected in the United States sine January, with 15 deaths due to the virus having been recorded with the country.


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