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Millions Of Californians Won’t Have To Pay For Coronavirus Testing, If They Need It

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This illustration reveals the morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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California Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials have announced that Californians who have health coverage through Medi-Cal or commercial health plans won’t have to pay out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus testing, if a provider deems it's medically necessary.

There are at least 60 known cases in California.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

The governor’s directive, announced late Thursday, applies to all commercial and Medi-Cal plans regulated by the state’s Department of Managed Health Care. It means that the test—if a provider deems it medically necessary—will be free for state residents who have Medi-Cal, employer-based health insurance, or health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

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According to the directive, patients who providers determine are in need of testing for the virus won’t be subject to cost-sharing, meaning the out-of-pocket costs that insured patients pay for many covered medical services.

However, “this doesn’t mean every Californian should be seeking a test,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, in a statement from the state’s public health department.

Before being tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, concerned individuals should talk to their doctor or local public health department, officials said — especially if he or she has symptoms or has traveled to countries experiencing outbreaks. A doctor or medical professional will have to decide if the person is eligible for testing.

The new directive also waives costs for emergency room visits, urgent care or provider visits pertaining to COVID-19.

However, some people won’t be eligible for free testing if their employer is self-insured, meaning the company operates its own health insurance plan.

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