September 22, 2022
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has extended three emergency orders. His order requiring health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and his order protecting consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19 are both extended until October 25. Both orders will be extended one more time through the end of October. They will not be renewed after Oct. 31 when the Washington's emergency declaration is expected to end.
Kreidler also extended his order requiring health insurers to cover coronavirus vaccine counseling for the final time. It will also end on October 31.
Kreidler's order waiving cost-sharing applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term, limited-duration medical plans. The order on surprise billing applies to both in-state and out-of-state laboratories when a provider orders diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Also, insurers must continue:
- Allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
- Suspending any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19.
In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost.
“Consumers are rightly concerned about prevention, testing and possible treatment,” Kreidler said. “My emergency orders provide guidance to health insurers and should help reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to protect them.”
Kreidler is using powers granted to him following the statewide emergency that Gov. Jay Inslee declared to protect Washington residents against the spread of the coronavirus.
When the governor issues an emergency proclamation, the commissioner can issue an emergency order related to health care coverage to ensure access to care. The order can be extended by the commissioner for 30 days at a time as long as the governor’s emergency proclamation remains in effect.