Soon Private Insurance Companies in the U.S. Will Be Required to Reimburse for At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Woman doing an at-home COVID test.

Image source: Getty Images

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At-home COVID-19 tests are pricey, but soon more Americans will be able to access these tests without financial worry.

Key points

  • Private insurance companies will soon be required to reimburse for at-home COVID-19 tests.
  • Increased availability of at-home tests and reimbursement will improve access for more than 150 million Americans.

If you think that you're positive for COVID-19, taking a test is a good way to check. While many pharmacies and healthcare clinics around the country offer testing, appointments book up fast. Sometimes taking an at-home COVID-19 test is the best option. But these tests can be expensive, and for some, the cost is prohibitive -- so they may put off testing altogether.

An upcoming change will make it easier for more Americans to get tested. The U.S. government announced today that private insurance companies in the U.S. will soon be required to reimburse for at-home COVID-19 tests.

The cost of convenience

Getting tested for COVID-19 is now a regular part of life. Whether you test because you're showing symptoms, test after potential exposure, or test due to workplace requirements, having access to quick and convenient testing is helpful. As positive cases increase, securing an appointment can be tricky.

At-home covid tests can offer a more convenient solution. They're available online and in-person at stores and pharmacies, and results are usually available in just a few minutes. But these tests aren't cheap. Many stores price these tests between $20 and $25 for a two-pack. It can be costly if you need to test regularly or test your whole family.

While those who have health insurance can get tested at a pharmacy or healthcare clinic without worrying about the financial aspect, they've had to cover the cost of at-home tests themselves. Soon that won't be the case for Americans who have private health insurance.

Here's what you need to know

The Biden administration announced plans to further protect Americans from the omicron and delta variants of COVID-19. The plan outlines actions that will make at-home testing more affordable and accessible to more Americans.

Private health insurance companies will soon be required to reimburse for 100% of the cost for at-home COVID-19 tests. While this applies to Americans with private insurance, it doesn't apply to people on public health plans.

Government agencies will issue guidance by Jan. 15, 2022, to clarify that those who buy over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests will be able to seek reimbursement from their health insurance plan. This will impact nearly 150 million Americans with private insurance.

In addition, the government will take steps to expand COVID-19 testing access to all Americans, including those in uninsured and underserved communities. Free at-home tests will be available for distribution through community health centers and clinics. The government will provide 50 million free at-home tests to community sites, including rural communities.

The pandemic has negatively impacted finances

Many individuals and families have had their finances impacted in some way during the pandemic. Some examples are job loss, reduced hours and benefits, and time away from work to recover from illness. Paying for additional medical care and COVID-19 testing during the pandemic can also cause financial hardship.

Financial concerns shouldn't prohibit anyone from getting tested for COVID-19. These upcoming changes should make it easier for Americans to get tested quicker. Expanded access to testing and increased vaccination efforts should help reduce the virus's spread.

If you're still struggling financially amid the pandemic, assistance is available. Here are some pandemic resources that may be helpful. If you need guidance on how to better manage your money or other important financial matters, check out our personal finance resources.

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