Increased Coverage and Availability of At-Home COVID Tests Expected in January
The Biden Administration recently announced new resources for at-home, rapid COVID testing. Such tests can help reduce the demand for testing from hospitals and health systems and alleviate the burden on the health care workforce, which in Wisconsin has been stressed even further during the latest COVID surge.
The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor are tasked with issuing guidance that would require insurers to reimburse their members for purchasing over-the-counter COVID tests. In February 2021, the Biden administration issued guidance clarifying that insurers generally must cover, with no cost sharing, COVID-19 diagnostic tests regardless of whether the patient is experiencing symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19, when a licensed or authorized health care provider administers or has referred a patient for such a test. Insurers are also prohibited from requiring prior authorization or other medical management for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. The new guidance regarding over-the-counter tests is expected by Jan. 15 and will apply through the end of the public health emergency.
In addition, the Biden administration is planning to purchase 500 million at-home, rapid COVID tests and distribute them directly to individuals. Individuals who would like a test will be able to register on a website to have the test mailed to them at no charge. The website and initial delivery of tests are expected to be available in January 2022.
The Biden administration is also planning to expand federally supported free testing sites across the country and distribute additional at-home tests to community sites, such as health centers and rural clinics. WHA staff will share more details about the availability of at-home tests when additional guidance is issued.
This story originally appeared in the December 30, 2021 edition of WHA Newsletter