OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency order protecting consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically-necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19.

His order applies to both in-state and out-of-state laboratories, when a provider orders diagnostic testing for COVID-19.

“We know people are under tremendous stress as we fight this pandemic,” said Kreidler. “We want to make sure they’re not worrying about receiving a surprise medical bill while trying to take care of their own or their loved one’s health.”

His order also encourages health insurers to notify his office if out-of-network laboratories are not publishing cash prices or if they do not accept the published cash price as final payment for COVID-19 diagnostic testing.

Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, insurers must reimburse laboratories the rate they have negotiated for diagnostic services or the price published on its website. Failure to publish this price could result in a $300 per day fine.

Kreidler’s order is in effect until July 31.

Washington’s new Balance Billing Protection Act prevents consumers from getting a surprise or balance bill if they receive emergency services and are treated by an out-of-network provider or if they’re treated at an in-network hospital or surgical facility and are treated by an out-of-network provider.

“Providing safe and flexible access to care is critical now, more than ever,” he added. “Anyone getting testing for coronavirus should not live in fear that they’ll be hit with a surprise medical bill.”