Emergency rules bar coronavirus copays

SANTA FE — New Mexico’s insurance superintendent will prohibit health insurers from charging copays or imposing similar costs on patients who seek testing and treatment for COVID-19 under emergency rules issued Friday.

Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal also ordered health insurers to notify their members about whether — or to what extent — their coverage includes care for COVID-19. If the coverage is limited, the companies must inform their members and tell them about options for full coverage.

A second order targets limited-benefit plans — such as workers compensation — requiring them to inform members that they don’t have full coverage.

In a written statement, Toal said the goal is to take aggressive steps to limit the spread of COVID-19, the diseased caused by the new coronavirus sweeping the globe.

“A key part of that strategy is ensuring access to free, high-quality care, including testing and treatment,” Toal said.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she hopes the rule will encourage New Mexicans to seek out the tests and treatment they need.

“During this emergency,” she said, “we can’t afford to place barriers between New Mexicans and the tests and treatment they need.”

The state Department of Health is also encouraging people to avoid travel and self-isolate for 14 days if they’ve been out of state.

Six New Mexico residents — most with recent travel to New York or overseas — have tested positive for COVID-19. The cases are in Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Socorro counties.

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