With the COVID-19 variant Omicron outbreak in the United States and elsewhere, testing is essential for the continuation of work, school and entertainment activities. However, with shortage of rapid test kits, some retailers are making them unaffordable by scamming customers. Now, the Biden administration has announced that the test kits must be covered by private insurance, The Wall Street Journal reported.
People with private health insurance can be reimbursed for up to eight tests per month per person. To keep things simple, the White House is encouraging insurers to partner with retailers and pharmacies so people can take tests without paying upfront or submitting a claim. The tests are available without a deductible, coinsurance, or co-payment, so a family of four on the same health plan could be reimbursed for 32 tests per month, for example. For such programs, reimbursement would be limited to $ 12 per test.
Today’s action further removes financial barriers and extends access to Covid-19 testing to millions of people.
The new policy does not apply to Medicare, which has more than 60 million seniors at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. However, Medicaid for Low-Income People already covers FDA-approved COVID-19 home testing. The administration also plans to make tens of millions of free tests available to uninsured Americans at health clinics and other sites, according to The New York Times.
Some insurers said the administration was acting too late and had failed to address the shortage of home testing. However, a national association of coverage providers said the new plan “takes steps to mitigate the real risks of price gouging, fraud and abuse.”
Having enough diagnostic tests will be key to slowing the Omicron wave that is beginning to overwhelm healthcare systems in the United States and elsewhere. This can help isolate infected people or get treatment faster, reducing potential transmission and reducing the burden on hospitals.
This will become even more important given the approval of Pfizer and Merck’s antiviral pills 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 COVID tests that allow them to go to school, visit family members and live their lives,” said Sabrina Corlette of the University of Georgetown. WSJ.
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