On Friday, CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) announced some well-received news regarding its coronavirus containment efforts. Members of the conglomerate's health insurance operation, Aetna, will receive free access to important services related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Free COVID-19 testing
Effective immediately, Aetna will waive all co-pays for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19 for patients that meet guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The FDA recently relaxed rules that will allow America's larger clinical laboratories to market new COVID-19 diagnostic services before they've been run through the usual rigorous validation process so test availability will climb exponentially over the next several days.
On March 4, the CDC updated the criteria for deciding who should be prioritized for testing but didn't provide any defined rubric. Instead, healthcare providers need to use their own judgment to determine if each patient's symptoms are compatible with COVID-19 then weigh the strength of their diagnosis against their patient's travel history and the local epidemiology. In other words, people traveling from Italy or living in Seattle should be tested at the first sign of illness. If a patient's in an area where there haven't been any confirmed yet, it's probably better to wait for signs of a cough and a fever before ordering a COVID-19 test.
Free telemedicine and care packages
For the next 90 days, Aetna will also offer zero co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason. Whether you're seeing a healthcare provider for a suspected case of COVID-19 or anything else, CVS Health wants to limit potential exposure to the virus in physician offices.
Aetna members diagnosed with a case of COVID-19 will also receive a free care package containing over-the-counter medications and cleaning supplies to help prevent the virus from spreading further.