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In the midst of an Omicron surge that is triggering scores of school closings and strained hospitals due to staff shortages and increased hospitalizations throughout the country, the White House detailed its plans to mandate insurance companies to reimburse the purchases of at-home COVID-19 tests.
In addition, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla announced on Jan. 10 that the pharmaceutical company is set to launch a redesigned COVID-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron variant of the virus by March, according to reports.
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Beginning Jan. 15, individuals with private health insurance coverage or covered by a group health plan who purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized, cleared, or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be able to have those test costs covered by their plan or insurance, according to an administration statement.
Insurance companies and health plans are required to cover eight free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month. In addition, there is no limit on the number of tests, including at-home tests, that are covered if ordered or administered by a health care provider following an individualized clinical assessment, including for those who may need them due to underlying medical conditions.
“Under President Biden’s leadership, we are requiring insurers and group health plans to make tests free for millions of Americans. This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp-up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost,” Health and Human Services Department Secretary Xavier Becerra, said in the statement. “Since we took office, we have more than tripled the number of sites where people can get COVID-19 tests for free, and we’re also purchasing half a billion at-home, rapid tests to send for free to Americans who need them. 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.”
The administration said that when plans and insurers make tests available for upfront coverage through preferred pharmacies or retailers, they are still required to reimburse tests purchased by consumers outside of that network, at a rate of up to $12 per individual test.
“Testing is critically important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as to quickly diagnose COVID-19 so that it can be effectively treated. Today’s action further removes financial barriers and expands access to COVID-19 tests for millions of people,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.
Meanwhile, Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO …….