Advocate Aurora, Providence halt medical bills for coronavirus patients

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Advocate Aurora Health and Providence are holding off on sending patients bills for testing and treatment of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Advocate Aurora Health, a 28-hospital system with dual headquarters in Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill., announced March 12 that it is pausing billing related to COVID-19.  

"At this time, we are refraining from sending patient bills related to coronavirus as we continue to work with regulatory and industry officials to navigate this developing situation," Advocate Aurora said in a statement to Crain's Chicago Business. "This is not a commitment to waive fees indefinitely and Advocate Aurora Health may send out bills later."

Providence, a 51-hospital system based in Renton, Wash., is also halting medical bills related to the virus. The health system is "implementing a temporary hold on all inpatient and outpatient COVID-19-related billing," the system told Axios on March 12.  "This gives us the necessary time to align with insurers, testing and lab partners, and our state and federal governments involved in providing various elements of COVID-19 health care."

As noted by Axios, halting medical bills related to COVID-19 is not an industry-wide standard. Some patients have voiced concerns about the bills they received related to COVID-19, including an American who was flown back to the U.S. from Wuhan, China, and put under quarantine. Other reports, including one about a school teacher in New York whose insurance plan is footing a $10,000 bill after she went to an emergency department for symptoms of the virus, raise questions about the affordability of tests and treatment for uninsured Americans.

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