Government to require insurance companies to cover cost of at-home COVID-19 tests

The federal government will soon require health insurance companies to cover the costs of at-home COVID-19 tests.

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President Joe Biden is expected to announce the new regulations Thursday.

The Health and Human Services Department, Labor Department and Treasury Department will issue the guidance overseeing the new regulation by Jan. 15. The rules will lay out how many tests are covered and how often, ABC News reported.

Reuters reported that the move will not be retroactive and it will only apply to people with private health insurance, not people who receive coverage from public health insurance.

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To compensate those on either public coverage or those who do not have any health insurance, the administration will send 50 million tests to rural clinics and testing sites.

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For those who do qualify, they will be able seek reimbursement from their insurance companies for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, ABC News reported. On site testing is already covered by insurance, according to ABC News.

As for whether current testing can determine if the coronavirus diagnosis is a specific variant, like the current omicron variant, Time reported that most tests used cannot differentiate between the different strains. Instead, tests can only detect COVID-19. A lab will have to determine the variant by sequencing the variant’s genetic makeup.

There is, however, one test from Thermo Fisher Scientific that can look at three parts of the virus, one of which can determine if it was the alpha, or original, version of the illness, or whether it is different, Time reported.

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