For Consumers

Kreidler orders health insurers to expand telehealth, testing coverage, extend premium grace periods

Order includes waiving or expediting prior authorization for hospital discharges

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March 24, 2020

Revised @ 6:30 p.m to clarify grace periods for exchange enrollees.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued a second emergency order (PDF, 282KB) directing all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes to aid consumers during the coronoavirus pandemic. His order is in effect for 60 days and requires health insurers to:

  • Expand coverage to additional methods (www.hhs.gov) for providing telehealth including telephone and video chat tools such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangout video, Skype and GoToMeeting.
  • Cover all medically-necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certain other viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit for COVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
  • Treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visit with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.

To help free up hospital beds, Kreidler is directing health insurers to waive or expedite prior authorization requirements for home health care or long-term care facility services. This will speed up patient discharges for those who are ready to leave.

People who receive a subsidy through Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange have a 90-day grace period for paying premium under the Affordable Care Act. Kreidler’s order creates a minimum 60-day premium grace period for unsubsidized enrollees in exchange individual health plans and for people enrolled in individual health plans sold outside of the exchange or in small and large employer health plans. Insurers may choose to extend the grace period beyond 60 days, but if they do so the extension must apply to all enrollees.

“These are critical times for all Washingtonians and we need to provide safe and flexible access to care,” Kreidler said. "I want people to know we’re watching out for them and are all working together to make sure insurance coverage is one thing they don’t need to worry about.”

Learn about coronavirus and insurance

See Washington's resources on COVID-19 (coronavirus.wa.gov)