Private health insurance providers could end up paying billions each month to reimburse their customers for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The Biden administration on Monday issued a requirement starting Jan. 15 for private insurers to reimburse their customers for "8 free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month. That means a family of four, all on the same plan, would be able to get up to 32 of these tests covered by their health plan per month."
The rule also states that "There is no limit on the number of tests, including at-home tests, that are covered if ordered or administered by a healthcare provider following an individualized clinical assessment, including for those who may need them due to underlying medical conditions."
According to the Free Beacon, if every 1 of the about 215 million Americans who have private health insurance were to take full advantage of the rule, it could end up costing companies about $20 billion each month, though the news outlet notes that this is "highly unlikely."
"We are concerned that the policy does not solve for the limited supply of tests in the country and could cause additional consumer friction as insurers stand up a program in just four days' time," said Kim Keck, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield, according to the Free Beacon.
"The Biden Administration's testing guidance protects insurers against price gouging by unscrupulous retailers, but only if the insurance company provides a way for consumers to get at-home tests for free at pharmacies with no upfront payment," Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a tweet earlier this week.
"The success of the Biden Administration's requirement that insurers pay for at-home COVID tests will depend, of course, on being able to snag those valuable tests to begin with," he added, noting that "in some cases, insurers are already covering at-home COVID tests, but only with a physician order. Starting Jan. 15, insurers have to cover at-home tests without a physician order."
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