Health Insurers Now Covering At-Home COVID-19 Tests
As the COVID-19 variant continues to spread rapidly across the country, many cleaning businesses are struggling to keep up with rising case rates among their own employees. In many instances, employees may show up not realizing they are positive, which creates or worsens an outbreak on site — an issue can potentially be avoided through the use of test kits at the onset of symptoms. In an attempt to help businesses with this matter, the Biden-Harris Administration is requiring insurance companies and group health plans to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests, so people with private health coverage can get them for free as of Jan. 15
The new coverage requirement means that most consumers with private health coverage can go online or to a pharmacy or store, buy a test, and either get it paid for up front by their health plan, or get reimbursed for the cost by submitting a claim to their plan. This requirement incentivizes insurers to cover these costs up front and ensures individuals do not need an order from their health care provider to access these tests for free.
Individuals with private health insurance coverage or covered by a group health plan who purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized, cleared, or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be able to have those test costs covered by their plan or insurance. Insurance companies and health plans are required to cover 8 free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month. That means a family of four, all on the same plan, would be able to get up to 32 of these tests covered by their health plan per month. There is no limit on the number of tests, including at-home tests, that are covered if ordered or administered by a health care provider following an individualized clinical assessment, including for those who may need them due to underlying medical conditions.
When plans and insurers make tests available for upfront coverage through preferred pharmacies or retailers, they are still required to reimburse tests purchased by consumers outside of that network, at a rate of up to $12 per individual test (or the cost of the test, if less than $12). For example, if an individual has a plan that offers direct coverage through their preferred pharmacy but that individual instead purchases tests through an online retailer, the plan is still required to reimburse them up to $12 per individual test.
In related infection control news, the CDC recently updated its guidance on the protection capability of different masks. For more on that, click here.