In January, the Biden administration announced a new plan in regard to free at-home Covid tests and Covid test reimbursements. Americans with private health insurance can get over-the-counter Covid tests covered by their insurance as of Jan. 15.
The White House also committed to send 500 million at-home Covid tests to all Americans for free in an effort to help with the massive testing shortage nationwide.
The U.S. Postal Service has launched a website where Americans can request at-home Covid tests to be sent via mail. Additional emergency rapid-testing sites have also been created in areas experiencing the greatest surges in cases.
COVID-19 Testing Update: Today, our administration announced that beginning January 15, 2022, individuals covered by a health insurance plan who purchase an FDA-approved, over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test will be able to have those tests covered by their insurance.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 10, 2022
Who qualifies for a Covid test reimbursement?
If you are one of the 150 million Americans with private health insurance, you should be eligible for reimbursement after you buy an at-home Covid test. This reimbursement includes people insured by their employer, as well as those who are covered under the Affordable Care Act.
For people whose health care providers have ordered a COVID-19 test, the Biden administration says there is no limit on the number of tests that are covered, including at-home tests.
There are plans in the works to include both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans by early spring 2022. Those on Medicare should be able to access up to 8 free Covid tests per month for free. Keep an eye on cms.gov for more details.
Currently, state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs must cover FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing.
Our administration is also purchasing 500M at-home, rapid tests to distribute for free to Americans who want them — starting this month. There will be a website where people can request at-home tests for free home delivery.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 10, 2022
How to get a Covid test reimbursement
Beginning Saturday, Jan. 15, insurance companies and health plans will be required to cover eight free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month, according to White House officials.
This means a family of four who are all covered under the same health insurance plan will be able to get up to 32 tests covered per month.
Here are some tips for consumers looking to be reimbursed.
- Keep your receipt after purchasing an at-home Covid test. Printed receipts from online purchases work, too.
- Fill out a reimbursement form with your insurance company—depending on your health insurance company, this may be a paper form or an online form.
- Only tests purchased on or after Jan. 15 are required to be reimbursed.
Additional reimbursement information
As part of the Biden administration's new plan, insurers and group health plans will be incentivized to set up programs that allow people to get over-the-counter tests directly through preferred pharmacies, retailers or other entities with no out-of-pocket costs.
"Insurers and plans would cover the costs upfront, eliminating the need for consumers to submit a claim for reimbursement," the White House said in a news release. "When plans and insurers make tests available for upfront coverage through preferred pharmacies or retailers, they are still required to reimburse tests purchased by consumers outside of that network, at a rate of up to $12 per individual test (or the cost of the test, if less than $12)."
For example, if your plan offers direct coverage through their preferred pharmacy but you buy your tests online instead, your insurance company still has to reimburse you up to $12 per individual test.
“Testing is critically important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as to quickly diagnose COVID-19 so that it can be effectively treated," said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a press release. "Today’s action further removes financial barriers and expands access to COVID-19 tests for millions of people."
For any additional questions or concerns, check with your health insurance company.
A version of this post was originally published on Jan. 11, 2022. It has been updated.