b'Does Insurance COVER MY COVID-19 Testing?federal guidance, providers are generally prohibited from balance billing for COVID-related testing, but they are not prohibited from balance billing for related items and services. I should note that while balance billing for those related items is not strictly prohibited by federal law, it is strongly discour-aged (whatever that means). It may also be limited or prohibited by state law, but thats unlikely.Another difficult challenge is determining what constitutes related services and what does not. The general impetus behind the federal legislation is to remove financial barriers to COVID testing and to ensure individuals have prompt and meaningful access to those tests so we can quickly identify coro-navirus carriers and control the spread of the disease. The referenced DOL guidance makes it clear that the 100% payment for COVID-related expenses only refers to the extent the items and services relate to the furnishing or ad-ministration of the [COVID test] product or to the evaluation of the individual for purposes of determining the need of the individual for such product. This means that care that is rendered without a COVID test or the expensive health-care treatment that results from the COVID disease does not need to be paid at 100%. To illustrate the potential inequity of this limitation, a Peterson / Kaiser Family Foundation article 3relates a story where a woman sought emergency care for COVID symptoms but wasnt tested because the facility didnt have COVID-19 test kits available. Unfortunately for her, she was left to pay more than $1,800 in uncovered charges!Finally, we should remember that COVID diagnostic test pricing is very un-predictable and difficult to pin down. According to the Peterson/KFF article, a single diagnostic test can range from $20 - $850and that doesnt include the price of a provider visit, facility fee, specimen collection or any other test that may have been conducted! In fact, Ive recently heard theres a provider in Salt Lake City that is charging $1,300 for a simple COVID test! Can you say price gouging?As a general rule, WMI has found drive-through test sites charge the least for COVID tests (somewhere in the $50-$100 range). The cost for tests that are performed in a doctors office are usually fairly reasonable ($100-$200), while tests conducted in a healthcare facility or health system are the most expen-sive. In many instances, you may not have the time or flexibility to choose your COVID testing venue, but if you do, I would recommend a drive-up test site as your first choice.While COVID testing and related charges can be very arbitrary, there are a few things individuals can do to limit costs and exposure. Those thingsIf you have questions include taking time to learn the price beforehand, choosing a reasonable de- about this article or livery system, and realizing that (contrary to what one of my family memberswould like to discuss innocently believed when she got her COVID test) just because the provideryour companys health doesnt require payment at the time of service, it isnt free! Choose wisely andinsurance progam, feel help us control our COVID costs so we can return those savings to you in thefree to contact me at form of lower health insurance premiums. Ohand please wear a mask! (801) 263-8000 or email@example.com. 3https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/covid-19-test-prices-and-payment-policy/SWPMA News / Winter 202021'