U.S. Health Insurance Companies Must Cover 8 at-Home Covid Tests per Month

U.S. Health Insurance Companies Must Cover 8 Free COVID-19 Tests per Month


In a better late than never move, the Biden Administration is requiring U.S. health insurance companies to cover the cost of up to 8 at-home COVID-19 tests per insured person per month, effective 1/15/22. This is for consumer-initiated testing; there is no limit to the number of COVID-19 tests covered by insurance if the tests are ordered by a healthcare provider after an individualized clinical assessment.

Given the current Omicron surge with its ~4X transmissibility, the test coverage requirement is helpful for both travelers testing prior to or after travel, and families with school-age children who need to frequently test to attend school. An insured family of four is covered for up to 32 tests per month.

Get COVID-19 Tests Free at the Insurer's Preferred Retailers

The primary way to obtain tests is via the insurance company's preferred retailers. For example, United Healthcare's preferred retailers for free over the counter COVID-19 tests are Walgreens, Rite-Aid Pharmacy, and Bartell Drugs. The tests must be purchased at the pharmacy counter, and you must bring your member insurance card with you.


Buy OTC Covid-19 Tests and Request Reimbursement

Some insurance companies such as Aetna, at time of writing, instead require members to pay out of pocket for the tests and request reimbursement. Note that Aetna only reimburses antigen rapid home tests (not PCR tests such as Vault COVID-19 tests). See further details on Aetna's Reimbursement for OTC COVID-19 at-home test kits page.

If your insurance company has NOT set up a network of preferred retailers, then you should be fully reimbursed for the cost of the test, for eligible tests.

Note that if your insurer HAS set up a network of preferred retailers to receive the free OTC tests, any tests that you buy outside of the network are only reimbursed at up to $12 per test. For example, since United Healthcare has set up Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Bartell Drugs as preferred retailers, if you're insured by UHC and buy COVID-19 tests elsewhere and submit the expenses for reimbursement, you'll only be reimbursed $12 per test, even if you paid much more than that.


Also Obtain 4 Free COVID-19 Tests from the U.S. Government

Each home in the U.S. is eligible for 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. Simply complete your details at COVIDtests.gov.


Note that the OTC rapid antigen tests are more error-prone than the more expensive PCR tests at accurately diagnosing a positive COVID-19 case, although the rapid antigen tests do tend to be quite accurate with their positive results, with few false positives.

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