COVID-19’s Outsized Impact on the Uninsured; Federal Programs to Reimburse for Their Care

The pandemic is having an outsized impact on Americans without health insurance. According to a report by Families USA, approximately one out of every three COVID-19 deaths nationally are linked to health insurance gaps. The federal government has committed $4.8 billion from the American Rescue Plan to reimburse practices for COVID-19 tests and treatment administered to uninsured patients, regardless of immigration status (“HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program”).
Separately, a new program—“The COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund”—covers the costs of vaccinating patients who are un- or under-insured. Clinicians must provide the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals regardless of their coverage status and without patient out-of-pocket costs. Some in Congress are also concerned about the costs of COVID-19-related care for patients with insurance, particularly those with high deductibles. At the end of April, ten members of Congress sent a letter to Anthem, CVS/Aetna, and United Health encouraging them to continue waiving patient cost-sharing for COVID-treatment, which some insurers have rolled back in recent months.

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