Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner John King on Monday called on health insurers to waive their policyholders’ cost-sharing charges for testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Georgia urges health insurers to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests

Health insurers should waive their policyholders’ cost-sharing charges for testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Georgia’s state insurance and fire safety commissioner said in a directive issued Monday.

Insurers should also boost their preparedness, keep customers informed about their benefits and share how they are responding to the state directive, said Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner John King. He called the spread of the disease an “urgent public health challenge.”

» THE LATEST: Complete coverage of coronavirus in Georgia

“The department asks health insurers to waive any cost-sharing for COVID-19 laboratory tests so that cost-sharing does not serve as a barrier to access to this important testing,” King wrote in his three-page directive, which requests but does not require waiving the charges. “Laboratory tests are an essential health benefit, and as such, must be covered under individual and small group comprehensive health insurance policies and contracts.”

King’s directive also asks insurers to consider waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 vaccines, when and if they become available.

“I have received several calls from the insurance industry saying, ‘Hey, how can we help?’” King told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I have not seen any insurance company even indicate that they were going to push back.”

King issued his directive a day after state officials announced they were awaiting test results for four new presumptive positive COVID-19 cases. The patients — who are from Cherokee, Cobb and Fulton counties — have no connections to each other and all of them are hospitalized. Their sources of infections are unknown.

» RELATED: 4 more possible coronavirus cases as Ga. set to quarantine cruise passengers

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a directive, requiring his state’s health insurers to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests, including emergency room, urgent care and office visits.

“Containing this virus depends on us having the facts about who has it — and these measures will break down any barriers that could prevent New Yorkers from getting tested,” Cuomo said.

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