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Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Both health insurers and regulators are working to make sure that coronavirus diagnostic tests will be covered — but that doesn't necessarily mean coronavirus treatment will be affordable.

Driving the news: California, New York and Washington state have announced that health plans are required to cover the diagnostic tests and the associated provider visit, without cost sharing.

  • Many health plans — including members of America's Health Insurance Plans are voluntarily saying that the tests will be covered. Cigna announced specifically that it will waive all cost sharing.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services emailed Medicare beneficiaries yesterday saying that the tests are covered. Lab tests generally don't have cost sharing under Medicare.

Yes, but: State insurance commissioners don't have the authority to regulate self-insured plans, which cover 61% of workers with employer-provided health benefits, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • And, as WSJ points out, the state actions "focus on diagnosis, not treatment of COVID-19. ... Older people and those with underlying health conditions have in some cases needed extensive, and costly, hospital care."

And while state regulators are addressing the provider visit associated with testing, insurers themselves generally aren't.

  • "We will cover needed diagnostic testing when ordered by a physician. We will take action to ease network, referral, and prior authorization requirements and/or waive patient cost sharing," AHIP said in a statement by its board of directors.
  • But the related provider visits and other services "would be covered in accordance with a person’s policy," an AHIP spokesperson said.

Go deeper: Coronavirus test kit affordability could hurt U.S. containment efforts

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 5 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.