Private health insurers will be required to reimburse Americans for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests beginning on Saturday, according to guidance released by the Biden administration on Monday. File Photo courtesy of Abbott
Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Monday issued guidance requiring private health insurers to reimburse Americans for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests.
Providers will be required to cover eight over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month, or 32 tests per month for a family of four on the same plan.
"Plans and issuers are strongly encouraged to provide direct coverage for OTC COVID-19 tests to participants, beneficiaries and enrollees by reimbursing sellers directly without requiring participants, beneficiaries or enrollees to provide upfront payment and seek reimbursement," the guidance states.
Individuals who purchase tests outside of their insurers' preferred network can still be reimbursed up to $12 a test, or the cost of the test if it is less than $12.
The plan is part of an effort by the administration to "ramp-up access to easy-to-use at-home tests at no cost," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
"By requiring private health plans to cover people's at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans' ability to get tests for free when they need them," said Becerra.
During a press briefing Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki also provided an update on President Joe Biden's pledge to provide 500 million rapid tests to be mailed to Americans who request them.
Psaki said the administration will have the free tests "out the door in the coming weeks," adding that details about how to obtain the test will be available online and through a hotline later this week.
"The contracts [for testing companies] are structured in a way to require that significant amounts are delivered on an aggressive timeline, the first of which should be arriving early next week," she said.