Beginning Thursday, the Washington-area Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance plans will no longer pay for routine hospital admission tests, unless the tests are specifically ordered by the patient's physician.
The notification from the local insurance group follows similar recommendations earlier this year by the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield organization and the D.C. Medical Society.
The policy is designed to cut expenditures for the batteries of tests that have been routinely given to all patients entering most hospitals. Blue Cross and Blue Shield estimated that this policy could save $1.5 billion a year nationwide.
Raymond D. Freson, a spokesman for Group Hospitalization Inc. and Medical Services of D.C., the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans here, said there is "no cost projection at all" for what the policy may save here.
Under the new rule, the insurance plans would not cover chest X-rays, electrocardiograms, urinalyses and multiple blood tests, among other tests, unless requested by a doctor.
When the D. C. Medical Society proposed earlier this year that such routine testing be eliminated, most of the city's hospitals said they had done so long ago. Some, however, said certain tests were still considered necessary.