Private insurance companies will have to provide free COVID tests

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Starting Saturday, January 15, private insurance companies and group health plans will be required to cover the cost of at least 8 over-the-counter at-home COVID testing kits per member insured. That means if a family of 3 is insured by a private insurance company, the family will have access to 24 at-home testing kits.

United States Health and Social Services Secretary Xavier Becerra states, “This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp-up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost.”

HSS states that it is part of ongoing efforts to expand Americans’ access to free testing and to slow the spread of COVID, especially during the current Omicron surge. What experts call the Omicron surge has already surpassed the peak in cases caused by the Delta variant. They state, “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.”

To further that end, later this month, the Biden-Harris Administration will begin operations to provide 500 million Americans free at-home testing kits.

To encourage more insurance companies, the Administration will be incentivizing the effort. For one, they would be able to purchase the over-the-counter testing kits upfront to “eliminate the need to submit a claim for reimbursement.”

Secretary Becerra adds, “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.”