Emergency order makes COVID-19 testing cheaper on patients, but test results are not available locally

As more residents become concerned about possible COVID-19 diagnosis, additional testing requests are coming through an an emergency order is making that process easier for residents.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has issued an emergency order to Washington state health insurers requiring them to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a release, it states the order requires insurers to;

  • Allow a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
  • Suspend any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19.

In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost.  

While Grays Harbor Community Hospital can take samples for patients who meet certain criteria , they say that they cannot analyze them on site. Samples must be sent to an approved outside lab for confirmation.

Testing will be available to those who have specific symptoms such as a temperature of 101 or greater, cough and shortness of breath, along with one of the following: 

  • known contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • recent travel to specific regions of the world
  • those sick enough to require hospitalization.

The hospital tells KXRO that as they prepare for COVID-19 spread in Washington State and continue preventive measures to limit the spread of other respiratory illnesses including influenza, they will begin limiting unnecessary visitation by the public to their facilities.

For the safety of the public and our patients, all public events, classes and group meetings at the East and West Campuses of GHCH will be postponed or canceled until the threat of COVID-19 has diminished.

They add that “Not everyone with a fever and respiratory symptoms needs to be evaluated by the emergency department. The very ill may need hospitalization, but the goal is to keep as many people at home “self-quarantined” as possible. At this time the Washington Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are determining who gets tested.”

The emergency order is effective immediately and applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term limited duration medical plans until May 4, 2020.

  • Actions you can take now to keep yourself and your community safe:
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Stay away from people who are sick with fever and a cough.
  • Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue. Throw out used tissues and wash your
  • hands.
  • Avoid touching your face especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Make plans for external events such as the closing of schools.
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you think you are sick enough to come to the hospital but you would like to speak with someone, we have a phone triage line: 360-537-5100. You will be asked to leave a detailed message and one of our nurses will return your call within 2 hours.

If directed to go to the hospital by the Washington State Department of Health, first call the GHCH Emergency Department at 360-537-4130. Ask to speak to the Charge Nurse, notify them that you meet the screening criteria, and have been directed to go to GHCH. You will receive specific instructions.