COVID-19 national public health emergency extension
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has extended the COVID-19 national public health emergency by another 90 days. It was scheduled to end July 19, 2021 and now is scheduled through Oct. 17, 2021. The Summary of COVID-19 Temporary Program Provisions, COVID-19 Billing Guide and UHCprovider.com/COVID19 web pages have been updated to reflect this extension.
Last update: July 20 2021, 3:50 p.m. CT
Testing, coding and reimbursement protocols and guidelines are established based on guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and federal governments and other health agencies. We’re closely monitoring COVID-19-related updates from these partners and updating this site as quickly as possible when new information is available. Care providers should work with local and state health departments to coordinate testing.
Members should work with their provider to order a test. Additional member guidance on testing can be found here.
COVID-19 Testing Guidance
UnitedHealthcare will cover medically appropriate COVID-19 testing during the national public health emergency period (currently scheduled to end Oct 17, 2021), at no cost share, when ordered or reviewed by a physician or appropriately licensed health care professional* to either:
1) diagnose if the virus is present due to symptoms or potential exposure, or 2) help in the treatment of the virus for a person
UnitedHealthcare health plans do not cover COVID-19 surveillance testing, which is testing used for public health or social purposes such as employment (return to workplace), education, travel or entertainment. These tests are only covered when required by applicable law and adjudicated in accordance with the member’s benefit plan.
And, like other over-the-counter health products, COVID-19 tests purchased over-the-counter – without a prescription or doctor’s involvement through a clinical lab – are generally not covered by UnitedHealthcare health plans. Members will be responsible for any cost, and they may use a health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA) or health reimbursement account (HRA). If a health care professional provides a prescription or order for the over-the-counter COVID-19 test as part of clinical care, the member may submit a claim for reimbursement with both the prescription and detailed receipt to UnitedHealthcare. State variations and regulations may apply.
We continue to monitor regulatory developments during emergency periods.
Tests must be FDA authorized to be covered without cost sharing (copayment, coinsurance or deductible). FDA-authorized tests include tests approved for patient use through pre-market approval or emergency use pathways, and tests that are developed and administered in accordance with FDA specifications or through state regulatory approval.
This coverage applies to in-network and out-of-of-network tests for Medicare Advantage, Exchange, Individual and Employer-sponsored health plans. For individuals enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Community Plans, state variations and regulations may apply during this time. Please do not collect upfront payment from the member.
If members receive medical services or advice for other conditions at the same time as receiving a COVID test, then cost sharing will be adjudicated in accordance with the member’s health plan and they will be responsible for any copay, coinsurance, deductible or other out-of-network costs.
We will reimburse COVID-19 testing in accordance with applicable law, including the CARES Act and UnitedHealthcare reimbursement requirements. State variations and regulations may apply during this time.
UnitedHealthcare is requesting all physicians and health care professionals who perform and bill for COVID-19 antibody tests to register the test(s) that will be used for our members.
*Licensure requirements vary by state. In some states, a pharmacist or other health care professional, such as a nurse practitioner, may have the appropriate licensure to order a test. Please refer to state-specific licensure requirements for appropriate guidance.
Date Reference Guide: Keep track of which temporary measures are expiring and which are being extended with our Summary of COVID-19 Temporary Program Provisions.
Continued Support: We are committed to business continuity and being there to assist you. All self-service capabilities are available, our call center is staffed and claims are being processed so you have the support you need.
The benefits and processes described on this website apply pursuant to federal requirements and UnitedHealthcare national policy during the national emergency. Additional benefits or limitations may apply in some states and under some plans during this time.
We will adjudicate benefits in accordance with the member’s health plan.
Medicaid Providers: UnitedHealthcare will reimburse out-of-network providers for COVID-19 testing-related visits and COVID-19 related treatment or services according to the rates outlined in the Medicaid Fee Schedule.