New York Looks to Protect Workers and Contain Coronavirus

In an effort to control and measure the Coronavirus in New York, Governor Cuomo has ordered new regulations on insurers and employers. By placing the responsibility on insurers and employers, workers are more likely to get take the proper time and testing needed if they are currently sick and there is reason to suspect it may be the Coronavirus. The main goal of these new regulations is to contain, diagnose and treat the virus, while minimizing contact with potential patients.

State Insurers are required to cover coinsurance, copays and deductibles associated with testing and treating the virus. In addition, emergency room, urgent care and office visits will be covered and insurers will not be allowed to require prior authorizations for emergent care including ambulance services. Hospital services will also be processed at in-network rates. New York has also asked insurers to increase their network of telehealth programs in an effort to decrease contamination within hospitals and doctors’ offices. Insurers have also been warned in the event that a vaccine is developed to cover the costs for administering immediately and cover non-preferred brands in the case of shortages.

New Yorkers enrolled in self-funded employer-based health insurance plans that are not regulated by New York State due to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) should contact their employer to fully understand the scope of coverage.

Cuomo also plans to add job protection for employees under quarantine, which would forbid employers from firing workers staying home under mandatory sick leave. The Governor hopes to give people the access and feeling of job security if they need to seek testing, treatment and potentially isolation if the virus is suspected. Cuomo would look to include this in the 2020-21 state budget.

There are 173 confirmed cases (at of 3/10/20) in New York and the number is suspected to grow as more people have proper access to testing. Cuomo urges people to not panic and take proper health precautions such as washing your hands, coughing and sneezing into the crook of your elbow, limiting physical contact with others and staying home if you are sick.