Melissa Riba quoted in Bridge Michigan on reinstituted copays and deductibles for COVID-19 patient cost-sharing

August 27, 2021 | Bridge Magazine, In The Media

Hospital billing statement for covidBridge Michigan’s Robin Erb and Makayla Coffee quote Melissa Riba, director of research and evaluation at the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT), in “Costs rising for Michigan COVID care with return of deductibles, copays.”

The story discusses an upcoming shift in patient cost burden for COVID-related illnesses—costs that have largely been waived by Michigan’s largest insurers for more than a year, ensuring that patient costs remained low.

By September 30, 2021, at least six insurers will resume charging copays and deductibles for COVID-related care.

Riba explains that while we’ve tried to encourage more Michigan residents to get vaccinated through a variety of incentives, this shift represents “the leading edge of the stick” in a carrot-and-stick approach.

She notes that shifting the COVID-19 cost burden to patients signals “moving away from the incentives to more of the penalties associated with making a choice to be non-vaccinated,” a shift that reflects a national trend among health plans as vaccines have become widely available to the public.

Dr. Michael Genord, CEO of Health Alliance Plan, agreed with her. “There’s been a lot of effort for people to take personal responsibility for the prevention of COVID that we didn’t have before.”

Insurers have noted that waivers for cost-sharing were intended to be temporary before vaccines were available.