Private health insurers will have to cover the cost of eight Covid home tests per month under a new Biden administration policy, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The administration said Monday that beginning on Saturday people can get reimbursements from their insurer without any deductibles or copays.
The tests are limited to eight per person per month, or 32 tests per month for a family of four.
The Biden administration is also urging insurers to set up partnerships with retailers so people can buy the tests directly using insurance rather than seek reimbursement.
Medicaid already covers the cost of home Covid tests but not Medicare.
The policy comes amid a shortage of home tests as Omicron cases continue to surge, rising by mrore than 200% over the last two weeks.
The Biden administration also said it will roll out a website that will allow Americans to request free home tests, though it did not specify when this will happen or how many tests people will be able to claim.
Some insurer groups said the administration had not done enough to make the tests more available or affordable.
“The lack of a coordinated national testing strategy two years into this public health emergency leaves too many communities without the resources necessary to mitigate this virus,” Ceci Connolly, president and chief executive of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, told WSJ, adding that the policy does not address the ongoing shortages.
But other insurers were more supportive of the plan.
“We recognize that the Administration’s guidance takes steps to mitigate the real risks of price gouging, fraud, and abuse,” Matt Eyles, president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans, told WSJ. “Health insurance providers will work as quickly as possible to implement this guidance in ways that limit consumer confusion and challenges.”
No funding for insurers:
The administration is not funding the cost of reimbursing people for the tests.
The administration said the policy falls under a 2020 Covid bill that requires insurers to provide Covid tests without cost sharing.
But even with the new policy and the plan to ship 500 million free home tests, public health experts say it may not be enough.
“Five hundred million is not really enough given the surge in cases,” Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told WSJ.