December 5, 2022

In Pitton’s plan for free rapid tests, legwork will be required

Over-the-counter Rapid Corona virus tests will soon become the biggest part of Biden management’s response to the epidemic and the new Omigron variant.

After a primary focus on vaccination, the White House announced on Thursday that private health insurers must refund patients for such tests. It said 50 million free trials would be available to uninsured Americans and would be distributed through health clinics and other sites in rural and disadvantaged communities.

But for insured consumers, the White House approach will require some legwork. Some health policy experts have questioned why the United States does not buy tests and provide them at a lower cost on behalf of all Americans, as some European countries have done. Instead, Americans must purchase checks and then submit receipts for repayment.

“Providing cheaper tests directly to the American people would be simpler from a consumer standpoint,” said Lindsay Dawson, co-director of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Studied quick test access. “Someone needs to know if it’s repayable, guide the repayment process and present the cost to get started.”

Other countries have spent more on quick testing. In the UK, citizens can use Government website To order free quick tests for home use. Germany invested Hundreds of millions of dollars Create a network of 15,000 quick test sites. Instead, the United States focused on purchasing the vaccine for the general public and encouraging them to take it.

The recent upsurge In hospitals And the advent of the Omigron variant prompted Biden management to expand test availability and improve affordability. Andy Slavit, a former White House adviser on corona virus policy, said the specific approach probably depended on experience.

“From the standpoint of the test makers, this eliminates the risk of production, which can help reduce costs,” he said. “They can now measure the market.”

Private insurers have been an integral part of the Trump and Biden administrations in offsetting virus testing costs. At the onset of the epidemic in 2020, Congress passed a law requiring insurers to fully cover corona virus testing in medical offices, public sites and other facilities – with no co-payments or exemptions.

By continuing to work with that organization, while focusing on the task of purchasing directly from those who are uninsured, Mr Biden said the administration could be a fast-track way to increase access to rapid testing for Americans with insurance. Slavit said.

“They can have a premium on speed and what more can they do to get more people tested quickly,” he said.

If consumers with private coverage were able to go through the refund process and use their health plans to pay for Govt tests, it could lead to unintended consequences: higher prices.

If consumers think, ‘I’ll get it back,’ they really don’t care about the price, “said G Boy, a professor of public health policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The rule is to help improve the test, but it can cause incompetence on the system.”

Dr. Boy was concerned that it would be difficult for Americans with public coverage, such as medical insurance and medical assistance, to obtain higher prices for home trials, and that their plans would not fall under the new rules. Biden Management hopes to provide testing for those groups by increasing the number of free sites across the country.

Right now, test manufacturers are setting prices for over-the-counter antigen rapid tests. Tests are usually sold in two packages, priced from $ 14 to $ 34. Drugstores and online retailers sometimes find it difficult to keep checks in stock, especially when cases increase.

Some have Made a mistake Lack of easy, cheap corona virus tests, slow government approval process – limited competition.

Refunds for Govt tests will not be a precursor, meaning consumers will not be able to submit receipts for what they have already purchased. Management said it plans to release rules outlining the repayment process by January 15. It is unclear whether the government will restrict a person from repaying.

Health plans offered by some employers cover the cost of home inspections over the past year or so, said Elizabeth Mitchell, chief executive of the Buyer Business Group on Health, which represents large companies that provide health benefits to their employees. “Our members do this to keep their employees safe,” he said.

Health Insurance Plans of the United States, which lobbies on behalf of private insurers, said it was eager to learn more about the new policy, but was also concerned about the possibility of raising prices through over-the-counter testing, as reported by some other trials. .

The original policy, which required insurers to insure cov- erals at the doctor’s offices and testing grounds, did not restrict what providers may charge, which helped some providers bill more than $ 3,000. For a test.

The White House has not said whether the forthcoming rules will limit the price that insurers have to pay.