Rapid COVID tests will soon be fully covered by insurance in the US

With the COVID-19 Omicron variant on the rise in the United States and elsewhere, testing is key to allowing work, school and leisure activities to continue. With rapid test kits in short supply, some retailers are making them unsustainable through customer tampering. Now, the Biden administration has announced that test kits should be covered by private insurance, The Wall Street Journal It has been reported.

People covered by private health insurance can be reimbursed for up to eight tests per month per person. To keep things simple, the White House is encouraging insurance companies to partner with retailers and pharmacies so that people can get tested without paying up front or filing a claim. Tests are available without deductibles, co-insurance, or co-pay, so a family of four on the same health plan can be compensated for 32 tests per month, for example. For such programs, payment will be limited to $12 per test.

Today’s measure removes further financial barriers and expands access to Covid-19 testing for millions of people.

The new policy does not apply to Medicare, which counts more than 60 million seniors at greater risk of developing complications from COVID-19. However, Medicaid for low-income people already covers the at-home COVID-19 tests authorized by the FDA. The administration also plans to make tens of millions of free tests available to uninsured Americans at health clinics and other locations, according to the New York times.

Some insurers said the administration was acting too late and had not addressed the shortage of at-home tests. However, one national association of coverage providers said the new plan “takes steps to mitigate the real risks of price gouging, fraud and abuse.”

Adequate diagnostic testing will be key to slowing the Omicron wave that is beginning to overwhelm health systems in the United States and elsewhere. It can help isolate the infected or receive treatment more quickly, reducing the likelihood of transmission and hospital workloads.

That will become even more important if we get permission for antiviral pills from Pfizer and Merck that can help high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID symptoms — provided they are diagnosed in time. “This policy will help millions of families afford the COVID tests that allow them to attend school, visit family members and live their lives,” said Sabrina Corlett of Georgetown University. The Wall Street Journal.

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