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This article reprinted with permission of NerdWallet.

Examination and vaccination for Coronavirus Free thanks to legislation passed last year. However, the treatment is inappropriate and may be more expensive.

A new vaccine is being produced, millions of doses are being used every day, and President Joe Biden said there will be enough vaccine for all US adults by the end of May. That is great news. But still risk COVID-19 infection and face medical bills.

Below is a quick overview of COVID-19 costs you may face, what insurance companies will pay and How to Deal With Medical Bills |.

What is protected by law

COVID-19 tests and vaccinations are free for everyone under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act.

  • Private insurance companies cannot bill the vaccination and generally do not have to bill the COVID-19 test. This is also true if you are using Medicare or Medicaid. (There are some exceptions to the screening, but the vaccination is completely free.)

  • If you do not have insurance, the law provides funds to cover the costs of testing and vaccination for service providers, so they should not bill you.

However, there are numerous reports of people being billed incorrectly for COVID-19 tests and related services. If you get paid for a free service, contact your provider to indicate the error. You may have to contact your insurance company.

Also read: Pfizer and BioNTech said the COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective in the Stage 3 trial in adolescents.

If you want to buy insurance or want cheaper ones, now is a good time to shop. The US Rescue Plan makes health care more affordable by reducing the premium for the exchange plans, and the premium paid in full to the workers fired to apply. COBRA insurance application.

Giving up helps, but it may not last

During a pandemic, Many private insurance companies have voluntarily abandoned cost-sharing for treatments involving COVID-19, including copays, payments against deductibles and coinsurance (what you pay after a deductible). But that could change soon.

The national public health emergency time – an official government statement – ends April 21, although it could be extended by 90 days. because we are not out of the woods yet. Insurance companies can continue to share the normal cost once the emergency time is up.

Even if your insurance company has now given up treatment, you may face a number of costs depending on your plan, the care received, and how your insurance company determines treatment. treatment in relation to COVID-19.

“Most of these exemptions still apply only to COVID-19 treatment received from network providers or facilities, and consumers treated out of the network may be charged in full. their treatment costs, ”according to the Kaiser Family Fund’s report was released in November.

Than: Break the US $ 1.1 million hospital bill of this ‘miracle’ COVID-19 victim

Adam Fox, deputy director at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a nonprofit health advocacy organization, says people may have symptoms or persistent conditions that require treatment.

“It’s not easy to discern what may or may not have been COVID related to after someone has recovered,” he said. “In most cases, insurance companies will not classify follow-up care as COVID related.”

To see what fees your insurance company has waived, check their website. The US Health Insurance Plans, a national association that represents insurance companies, has a summary of waivers for large companies. For example, United HealthCare’s Medicare Advantage waivers apply until March 31, while Humana’s Medicare Advantage waivers apply throughout 2021.

Settlement of medical bills

Medical payments do not go well in the best of times. Fox says there will be more problems as the pandemic continues. “Sometimes we get a response from the consumer nine to 18 months after they get the care,” he said.

Here’s how to get past potential expenses and handle medical bills:

Request an itemized bill for COVID-19 treatments: This will help you spot errors like duplicate invoice encoding, Fox said. Compare fees with an explanation of your benefits to see if they are covered. By law, insurance companies must pay for expenses such as doctor’s visit fees that may have been added when you got the test. Medicare patients are covered for most COVID-19 treatments, but may have to pay deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for a hospital stay.

Negotiate: You always can negotiate medical billsSaid Jan Stone, a medical payments advocate at Stoneworks Healthcare Advocates in Austin, Texas. If you do not have insurance, check with your healthcare provider in advance about which services you will be billed for.

Related: COVID-19 will change this about the way you get health care

If you’re in an exchange plan and get treatments it doesn’t cover, you can negotiate that cost, Stone said. The cost of the drug is also negotiable.

“If your doctor prescribes a single drug and you can take many less expensive drugs and still do that, you should ask your doctor.” “People love the convenience of taking a pill.”

Request a payment package: Talk with your healthcare provider about setting up a time-based billing plan. Also, ask your provider or search online to see if your state has a program to help with medical bills.

Get help: If you can, hire a medical billing advocate to negotiate complicated bills for you or seek claim help from experts through Claims.org. If you have a complaint about COVID-19 bills, contact the Department of Health and Human Services hotline at 800-HHS-TIPS or tips.hhs.gov. You may also file a complaint with your state attorney general or insurance commissioner.

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Amrita Jayakumar writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ajbombay.

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