Karen Taylor had been coughing for weeks when she decided to see a doctor in early April. COVID-19 cases had just exceeded 5,000 in Texas, where she lives.
Cigna, her health insurer, said it would waive out-of-pocket costs for “telehealth” patients seeking coronavirus screening through video conferences. So Taylor, a sales manager, talked with her physician on an internet video call.
The doctor’s office charged her $70. She protested. But “they said, ‘No, it goes toward your deductible and you’ve got to pay the whole $70,’” she said.
Policymakers and insurers across the country say they are eliminating copayments, deductibles and other barriers to telemedicine for patients confined at home who need a doctor for any reason.
“We are encouraging people to use telemedicine,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last month after ordering insurers to eliminate copays, typically collected at the time of a doctor visit, for telehealth visits.