Poll finds employers divided on employee cost-sharing for COVID tests 

March 16, 2023

Employers have some important decisions to make over the next two months before the COVID Public Health Emergency (PHE) comes to an end on May 11. One is how to handle cost-sharing for PCR and other COVID tests and related services provided by a licensed healthcare or otherwise authorized provider. Under the PHE, group health plans had to cover testing received either in- or out-of-network at no cost to participants. 

We recently polled recipients of our New Shape of Work newsletter to ask whether they planned to impose cost-sharing requirements once allowed. Of the more than 1,000 readers who responded, about half indicated that their organization will  not make any change when the PHE ends:  22% will continue to cover PCR testing at 100% both in- and out-of-network, and 29% say that they require COVID testing at their worksites and provide it at no cost.  Only about a fourth (26%) will now require cost-sharing from participants even when they use an in-network facility for testing; about another fourth (23%) will add a cost-sharing requirement only for out-of-network services. 

Thankfully, COVID reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been declining over the past several weeks and the test positivity rate had fallen to 7.6% on March 13 (as reported by the New York Times). But as we know from our past experience with COVID, there are no guarantees that current conditions won’t change. These poll results suggest that many employers are keeping that in mind. 
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