Access to Health Services
Senator Baldwin worked to pass the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help provide immediate support for Wisconsin families, workers, schools, small businesses, hospitals and our health care system. This action by Congress is another strong step forward to help Wisconsin meet the challenges we face. We are all in this together, and Senator Baldwin will continue her work across party lines to take additional steps to get through this public health crisis, stabilize our economy, and help us all move forward.
The bipartisan CARES Act provides:
- Financial support for hospitals and our health system, including critical investments such as personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers and testing supplies.
- $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile supplies of pharmaceuticals, PPE, and other medical supplies, which are distributed to state and local health agencies, hospitals and other health care entities facing shortages during emergencies.
- $1 billion for the Defense Production Act to bolster domestic supply chains, enabling industry to quickly ramp up production of PPE, ventilators, and other urgently needed medical supplies, and billions of dollars more for federal, state, and local health agencies to purchase such equipment.
- Increased funding for workforce and training, new construction to house patients, and emergency operation centers.
- Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis.
Information for Individuals on Insurance Coverage, Testing, and Treatment:
If I have private insurance, will I have to pay for a coronavirus test?
The Families First Coronavirus Act required that all private insurance plans cover coronavirus testing without deductibles, coinsurance, or co-pays. That bill also prohibited plans from using tools like prior authorization to limit access to testing. Insurers also have to cover fees for visits to the ER, an urgent care center, or a doctor’s office associated with getting a test without cost sharing.
For more information on how to get tested in the state of Wisconsin, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ website.
If I have private insurance, will I have to pay for treatment for the coronavirus?
If you have private insurance and are diagnosed with COVID-19, you should contact your health insurance company to find out more information. On March 19, Senator Baldwin wrote to the CEOs of several health insurance companies urging them to cover all COVID-19 related treatment and services without cost sharing requirements and allowing Americans to get tested, assessed and treated without the fear of unexpected medical bills. In response, a number of major health insurance companies have announced that they will cover certain costs associated with treatment of COVID-19. However, every plan is different. To understand your coverage options, please contact your insurance company directly.
If I have private insurance, how does this bill affect the cost of a vaccine when one becomes available?
The Affordable Care Act required that preventive services and vaccines be covered by private insurance without cost-sharing. Normally, these services and vaccines are covered starting on the first day of the plan year beginning after they get a favorable rating or recommendation from the United States Preventive Services Task Force or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. This section requires that coverage without cost sharing begin fifteen days after getting a favorable rating or recommendation.
I lost my job due to the outbreak of COVID-19. How can I sign up for comprehensive health care coverage?
Being laid off from a job is a traumatic event that affects not only the worker, but families and the community at large. If you have lost your job due to the outbreak of COVID-19, you have options. First, if you lose your employer-based insurance, you can sign up for a Marketplace plan. Losing employer-based coverage, even if you quit or get fired, qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period. This means you can buy insurance outside the yearly Open Enrollment Period. For more information on signing up for a Marketplace plan after losing your job-based coverage, please visit Healthcare.gov.
Second, you can also sign up for COBRA coverage. COBRA is a federal law that may let you pay to stay on your employee health insurance for a limited time after your job ends (usually 18 months). You pay the full premium yourself, plus a small administrative fee. To learn about your COBRA options, contact your employer.
Finally, depending on your income, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid, or BadgerCare Plus, which is a health care coverage program for low-income Wisconsinites. You can determine if you are eligible by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services' website.
Additional Information and Resources
For general information and resources about coronavirus for Wisconsinites, please click here.
For a section by section summary of the bipartisan CARES Act, please click here.
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