WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is calling on eight insurance companies that sell junk insurance plans in Wisconsin to make sure people can get the information, testing and care they need related to the coronavirus.

Last month, the Miami Herald reported on a Florida man who could be forced to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket after seeking care when he thought he might have contracted coronavirus while travelling in China. While the man ultimately tested negative for the virus, he is covered by a junk insurance plan which refused to cover the bill for his testing. In 2018, President Trump expanded short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI), or junk plans, to be sold for up to three years, with options for automatic re-enrollment. These plans are not required to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits like Affordable Care Act plans do, and can leave patients on the hook for thousands of dollars in unexpected costs.

“During an outbreak, it is critical that Wisconsinites and all Americans have access to the health care services they need. Unfortunately, we know that patients often forego recommended tests and treatments because of cost. When an individual’s source of health coverage is an STLDI plan, out-of-pocket costs are often a serious concern,” wrote Senator Baldwin in her letter.

Senator Baldwin continued, “During a public health crisis, it is vital that individuals understand their coverage options and seek appropriate medical attention. When patients go without needed testing or treatment because of cost concerns, we are all placed at greater risk. I strongly encourage you to consider taking immediate action to reduce the out-of-pocket costs of testing for and treatment of COVID-19 for individuals covered by one of your STLDI plans in the interest of protecting the nation’s public health.”

Senator Baldwin sent identical letters to all eight insurance companies that sell junk plans in Wisconsin. Baldwin’s letter to one of the eight insurance companies is available here.

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