California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued an alert warning consumers about some healthcare providers reportedly charging patients a COVID FEE when seeking care. A COVID FEE is an additional charge, purportedly for more frequent cleaning and disinfecting, and greater use of Personal Protective Equipment, also known as “PPE,” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medi-Cal: Those enrolled in Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal are not allowed to be charged a COVID FEE. If you have Medi-Cal or Denti-Cal, alert your doctor’s or dentist’s office that they may not charge a COVID FEE to Medi-Cal or Denti-Cal patients.
If you are being charged a COVID FEE please call the California Department of Health Care Services Medi-Cal Member and Provider Helpline at 1-800-541-5555 to report it or to ask questions about the fee.
Medicare: Those enrolled in Medicare may not be charged a COVID FEE. If you are being charged a COVID FEE please call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE to report it or ask questions about the fee.
Private Insurance: If you have private insurance, you have the right to ask your provider why you are being charged a COVID FEE and what the COVID FEE covers. You also have the right to ask your insurer if your provider can charge you the fee under your insurance plan rules. You should also alert the California Department of Managed Health Care at 1-888-466-2219 or visit their website at https://www.dmhc.ca.gov/fileacomplaint.aspx. You can also contact the California Department of Insurance at https://www.isurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/101-help/ or at 1-800-927-4357.
Tricare: Patients enrolled in Tricare may not be charged a COVID FEE at in-network providers. It may only be appropriate to charge a COVID FEE to a Tricare member when: (1) the patient does not inform the provider ahead of time that they have Tricare, and (2) the provider sends a written notice about a COVID FEE to the patient before an appointment. For more information please visit https://www.tricare.mil/ContactUs/ReportFraudAbuse.
We encourage you to take the following steps if you have already been charged a COVID FEE by your doctor or dentist:
- Contact your health or dental insurance company and request a reimbursement.
- If you are a Medi-Cal, Denti-Cal, Tricare or Medicare Dual-Eligible patient and you have been charged a COVID FEE, please file a complaint at www.oag.ca.gov/report and report which healthcare provider charged you a COVID FEE, as well as the name of your dental or health insurance company.
Read the full press release here.