INDIANAPOLIS — The Biden-Harris Administration announced Sunday they will now be requiring insurance companies and group health plans to cover at-home FDA-approved COVID-19 tests. At-home tests will be free of charge and available beginning January 15.
“This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp-up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost,” said US Department of Human and Health Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Since we took office, we have more than tripled the number of sites where people can get COVID-19 tests for free, and we’re also purchasing half a billion at-home, rapid tests to send for free to Americans who need them. By requiring private health plans to cover people’s at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans’ ability to get tests for free when they need them.”
How will insurance cover the cost of the tests?
According to the HHA, “Over-the-counter test purchases will be covered in the commercial market without the need for a healthcare provider’s order or individualized clinical assessment, and without any cost-sharing requirements such as deductibles, co-payments or coinsurance, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements.”
Where will the tests be available at?
Tests will be available online, or at a local pharmacy or store.
How many at-home tests can I get?
Insurance companies are required to provide 8 at-home tests per individual, per month.
Can I be reimbursed for my previous purchases of at-home tests?
Insurance companies are not required by law to reimburse tests purchased prior to January 15. It is suggested that if you are charged with a test after January 15, to keep your receipt for reimbursement through your healthcare provider.
How much is the reimbursement through my insurance company if I pay for the test out-of-pocket?
Check with your insurance company to be sure. In most cases, you will be reimbursed the full amount you paid for the test(s).
How long will it take to receive my reimbursement?
Individuals are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider for updates on when they will receive their reimbursements.
What if I’m uninsured? Can I still receive a free test?
The Biden-Harris Administration is purchasing 500 million over-the-counter at-home tests for free to all American individuals who want them. There will be a website where you can request at-home tests for home delivery—for free. People without insurance can also get free at-home test from some community health centers.
Do state Medicaid and CHIP programs cover at-home COVID-19 tests?
In accordance with the American Rescue Plan, Medicaid and CHIP programs are required to cover the cost of at-home tests.
Shandy Dearth at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health said she’s glad to see this change because of the rising costs some people are seeing with at-home tests.
“If you’ve got a family of four and you’re struggling keeping the kids in the K-12 school or a daycare, going to work,” Dearth said. “I know a lot of people going through a lot of money buying these home test kits.”
Dearth says the more access Hoosiers can have to testing, the better.
“I think it’s good for people to quickly know they’ve got COVID-19,” Dearth said. “They know they need to stay home. They know they need to notify their friends and family members so they can be a part of the solution.”
While the easier access to at-home test kits may be a step forward. Public health experts warn that the current tests on the market are not as sensitive to the Omicron variant.
“I think any effort we have to get people tested in whatever means necessary is going to be more helpful than not,” said Stephenie Mellinger wit the Madison County Health Department. “Bottom line is we want people to be tested by any means possible but just knowing there are limitations to all of it.”