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How to get free at-home Covid tests with your health insurance

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How to get free at-home Covid tests with your health insurance

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Private health insurers are extending their procedures for people to get their Covid tests at home at little or no cost.

The Biden administration announced the policy late last year ordering insurers to reimburse those they cover for testing, and additional guidance was released this month. Additionally, free testing is now available by mail to millions of Americans, regardless of insurance status.

The program for those with private insurance will allow up to eight tests per month per person, and the tests should be accessible at local pharmacies and online. But each plan has its own quirks.

Here’s what you need to know.

Should all insurance plans cover testing?

The answer is no.

The 150 million Americans who have private health insurance are eligible. That includes people insured by their employer, as well as those who purchased a plan on the Affordable Care Act market, said Lindsey Dawson, policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Individuals covered by Medicare will not be reimbursed under this program. Medicaid enrollees can benefit from the initiative, with some states implementing a reimbursement mechanism, but you should check with your state for more information.

Short-term or shared health care plans don’t have to be on the government agenda, said Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

How it works?

This varies by insurer.

Depending on your provider, you may either be able to get the tests at no upfront cost, or you will need to prepare them and then request a refund. In a recent review of insurance plans, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about half of insurers allow “direct coverage” and half require their enrollees to follow the reimbursement process.

You should call your insurer or check their website for your options.

If you can get a test over the counter without paying the cost, your insurer will likely have a list of preferred retailers where you can get it. For example, United Health Care spots include Walmart and Sam’s Club.

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If you opt for reimbursement, be sure to keep your receipt, said Caitlin Donovan, spokeswoman for the Patient Advocate Foundation.

“Your normal receipt should be fine — I’ve even printed receipts from Amazon — and then you’ll need to mail it,” Donovan said.

Many insurers currently require reimbursement forms to be mailed to them. Other options include fax and online submission. Some insurers require registrants to submit product barcode information, along with your receipt, Dawson said.

Keep in mind that at-home Covid testing is also an eligible expense for Flexible Savings Accounts and Health Savings Accounts.

Can I take a test?

Most home Covid tests that you can buy online or in pharmacies will be covered by the policy, provided it is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

“For insurers with a direct coverage option, these tests should be fully covered so that someone buying one doesn’t have to worry about a price cap,” Dawson said.

However, if you purchase a test outside of your insurer’s preferred network, you can only be reimbursed up to $12 per test.

If your insurer hasn’t set up a way for their enrollees to purchase the tests at no upfront cost, which you should know if they have, you should be reimbursed for whatever you paid for the test.

How many tests can I buy?

You should be allowed to buy at least eight tests per month under the policy. A family of four would be entitled to 32 tests per month.

What if I don’t have private health insurance?

The federal government will provide up to 50 million free at-home tests to community centers and Medicare-certified health clinics. You should be able to find one of these centers on your state or local health agency website.

Additionally, the Biden administration has purchased more than 500 million over-the-counter tests that are available to all Americans through home delivery that they can request on a website. Each household can currently order four tests.

When should I use a home test?

Dawson cited some of the most common circumstances in which people may want to test themselves for the virus: they have come into contact with someone diagnosed with Covid, they have symptoms of the virus, or they are expected to attend. at a high-risk event, such as a large family reunion or a meeting at which an immunocompromised person will be present.

How to get free at-home Covid tests with your health insurance

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