The Essential Guide to Low-Cost COVID-19 Care

by Dr. Kishlay Anand

Until a vaccine is developed and distributed, COVID-19 will remain a substantial threat of rapidly transmitting from human to human. As a result, addressing cost concerns surrounding testing is essential. Cost is a fundamental component to care access, and Arizonans need to feel that seeking a test isn’t financially prohibitive.

A Gallup study published in late April noted that nearly 15% of Americans aren’t receiving essential coronavirus care over fear of cost. But the fact is, fortunately, anyone can obtain a free COVID-19 test. The Families First Relief Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act make this possible for both insured and uninsured patients alike.

Where to Go for a Free Test

There are several places in Arizona where patients can get a no-cost test. As part of Governor Ducey’s testing blitz, patients can sign up to receive a test at one of Phoenix’s testing events. Through phoenix.gov, patients can select an event that works with their schedule and book an appointment online. Akos Urgent Care also offers 24/7, in-person access to free COVID testing.

However, if a patient can’t attend a testing event, telemedicine offers an alternative. Patients can download the Akos app to receive immediate access to a provider, even if they’re uninsured. Through the app, patients can speak with an Apricus Health provider who can advise them on proper COVID-19 care and direct them to additional resources. Lastly, patients who are too high-risk to attend a testing event can schedule an appointment for curbside testing through phoenix.gov, Akos, and more.

Employer-Sponsored Testing

For employers looking to safely bring their staff back into the office, access to testing is a critical component of a successful reopening strategy. To help ease the transition, Apricus Health and others are providing onsite workplace testing. Due to HIPPA regulations, testing companies cannot disclose individual test results, but they can call individuals who tested positive and outline their treatment plan away from the work environment. By isolating positive cases from the start, companies can help prevent a workplace outbreak.

Employer-sponsored testing also comes at a low cost to the company. Businesses can engage onsite testing companies with virtual physician access for a fraction of the cost that traditional health insurance plans provide. Health insurance costs have been rising substantially over the last several years, but recent advancements in telemedicine offer a low-cost solution for affordable primary care — for both employers and uninsured employees. The cost of a doctor’s visit can cost several hundred dollars for uninsured patients, but telemedicine can bring the cost down to $160, including nurse triage and provider consultations.

Reiterating Safety Measures

Since COVID-19 won’t be eradicated quickly or without a vaccine, people should continue to take precautions. Maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others whenever possible, wearing a mask in public and washing hands frequently are effective solutions for protecting against COVID-19.

For employers, making sure precautions are implemented before bringing employees back into work is critical. If six feet of distance isn’t possible, businesses should put barriers between employees and dictate the flow of office traffic. Just like grocery stores have arrows and markers on the ground to guide people, offices should do the same. Other ways to implement social distancing include installing portable plastic shields, limiting elevator and break room capacity and staggering employee office days. And, of course, hand sanitizer, gloves, masks and disinfectant spray should be made available at all times.

Free and low-cost access to testing and care is available to help track, treat and limit the spread of COVID-19. For more information on COVID-19, the City of Phoenix, The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Arizona Department of Labor have excellent resources to help people stay on top of the latest statistics, trends and protocols.

Kishlay Anand, M.D., M.S., F.H.R.S., is a board-certified cardiologist and electrophysiologist and Akos CEO and co-founder. Dr. Anand garnered extensive administrative experience serving as chairman of InstantMed Health Center, an innovative healthcare delivery model with Urgent Care and Primary Care Centers in the Phoenix metropolitan area providing lab, radiology and diagnostics — all at one convenient location.

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