UnitedHealthcare is waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment; continuing to expand access to telehealth. Learn more.

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COVID-19 Testing Guidance

Last update: April 3, 2020, 8:30 p.m. CDT

UnitedHealthcare will cover COVID-19 testing for all lines of business, in accordance with the member's benefit plan.

COVID-19 Testing: UnitedHealthcare is waiving cost sharing for COVID-19 testing during this national emergency for Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Individual and Group Market health plans.

COVID-19 Testing-Related Visits: UnitedHealthcare is also waiving cost sharing for COVID-19 testing-related visits during this same time, whether the testing-related visit is received in a health care provider’s office, urgent care center, emergency department or telehealth visit. This coverage applies to Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Individual and Group Market health plan members.

COVID-19 Treatment: UnitedHealthcare is waiving member cost sharing for the treatment of COVID-19 through May 31, 2020 for its Medicare Advantage, Medicaid plans, Individual and Group Market fully insured health plans. We will also work with self-funded customers who want us to implement a similar approach on their behalf.

Telehealth Services: Starting March 31, 2020 until June 18, 2020, UnitedHealthcare will waive cost sharing for in-network telehealth services for medical, outpatient behavioral and PT/OT/ST services from March 31, 2020 until June 18, 2020 for Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Individual and Group Market fully insured health plans. We will work with self-funded customers who want us to implement a similar approach.

UnitedHealthcare is also monitoring state-specific regulations related to this public health emergency.

UnitedHealthcare is following the CDC guidelines, which recommend that a physician order the test. FDA-approved tests are sent to an approved laboratory that can properly test for the presence of COVID-19. Currently, there are no at-home testing or specimen collection kits available for patients.

There are currently three ways to order a COVID-19 test: Through a public health facility, commercial laboratory (e.g., LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics) or hospital. The commercial laboratory testing through LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics became available March 11, 2020. Additional laboratories – including local hospital systems – are also beginning to test.

If a care provider determines their patient needs a COVID-19 test, but is not able to conduct the test themselves, care providers should work with their local and state health department or an affiliated hospital to determine where their patients can go in their community to get tested. Depending on the patient’s identification, acuity and location, they may get any one of the approved tests. Care providers are encouraged to call ahead and work with their patients to take proper isolation precautions when referring them for testing.

After ordering a COVID-19 test for a patient, the care provider will either collect the specimen or refer the patient to a specimen collection center, which is found at or adjacent to a hospital or other health care facility. These centers typically include a specially designated area to collect specimens from potentially infected patients. This could include a parking lot, mobile unit, tent or geographically removed site. These centers continue to be set up throughout the country by local health systems as a safer, quicker and more efficient way of screening and testing patients.

Currently, there are no at-home testing or specimen collection kits available for patients. However, as an alternative, self-administered tests can be performed in a clinical setting. UnitedHealth Group released a study that shows self-administered tests are 90% effective and significantly reduce the risk of infection for care providers when collecting the tests. To be effective, self-administered tests must be:

  • Ordered by a care provider (MD, DO, PA or NP), so clinics can register the test and help ensure chain of custody for the results
  • Conducted in the physical presence of a health care professional to help ensure the collection is done the right way (e.g., the patient puts the nasal swab far enough into their nose to collect an appropriate sample – it can’t just touch the nose)
  • Coordinated through local and state health departments for laboratory testing or use COVID-19 diagnostic testing labs authorized by the FDA under the emergency use authorization act

Commercial laboratories have reported that many tests have not been able to be performed by the laboratory due to improper specimen collection. Care providers should follow the guidance below from a commercial laboratory to help ensure that they properly collect and ship the COVID-19 specimens:

LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics will not collect specimens directly from patients. Collecting the specimen can only be done by a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner in a physician’s office, specimen collection center, urgent care center, hospital or other facility that is equipped to collect specimens. Laboratory patient service centers are not equipped to collect specimens.

For more information, please visit labcorp.com and/or questdiagnostics.com. Or review the CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19 specimen collection.


Care providers can connect to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for health professionals, as well as travel advisories from the U.S. State Department.

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The benefits described on this website describe federal requirements and UnitedHealthcare national policy. Additional benefits may be available in some states and under some plans.