GREENSBORO, N.C. — Starting Saturday, January 15, 2022 at-home COVID tests bought online, at a store, or pharmacy will be covered by your insurance.
It is a new federal requirement for insurance companies and health plans to cover the costs of the FDA-approved tests.
Each person covered under an insurance plan is allowed eight free over-the-counter at-home tests per person, per month. That means a family of four, all on the same plan, would be able to get up to 32 at-home tests covered by their insurance each month.
How does this work? Best case scenario: you buy a test wherever you want, online or at a store, and it's paid by your health plan upfront.
Worst case scenario, you buy a test wherever you want and you have to submit the receipt to be reimbursed by your health plan. Each insurer will have its own way to work it.
The Biden Administration is incentivizing insurers and group health plans to set up programs and partner with preferred pharmacies or retailers, in an effort to streamline the process for customers. Even if the insurer partners with a retailer, if a customer wanted to buy a test somewhere else, the insurer or health plan would then reimburse the customer $12 per test.
What happens if you bought a test just this week? Can you get reimbursed for it?
Insurance companies are not required to reimburse you for it.
The requirement begins January 15, 2022, but that doesn't mean your insurance company won't. It's worth a try.
MEDICARE & AT-HOME TESTS
At this time original Medicare cannot pay for at-home tests through this
program. Medicare Advantage plans may offer coverage and payment for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, so consumers covered by Medicare Advantage should contact their insurer.
WHAT ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT’S 500 MILLION FREE TESTS?
The White House says they're closer to getting those 500 million free at-home tests you can order.
“We expect to have all contracts awarded over the next two weeks and then Americans will begin being able to order these tests online later this month. We also expect to have details on the website as well as a hotline later this week,” said Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary.
Those free tests on the website don’t count against the at-home tests covered by insurance.