Biden Unveils Plan For Insurance Reimbursement For At-Home COVID Tests

by Christina Marfice
Anna Moneymaker/Getty

President Joe Biden is getting ready to unveil a plan for battling COVID this winter, including making at-home tests more accessible and affordable

As we head into another pandemic winter, the White House is preparing to unveil a set of new plans and policies that President Joe Biden hopes will help the nation curb the spread of COVID-19. Among his plans, which he is reportedly set to unveil today, are an extension of the federal maks mandate on transit, requirements for international travelers coming to the U.S., and policies that the administration hopes will make at-home virus tests more accessible and affordable.

The part of the plan that will likely be most exciting (and impactful for families) is that Americans with private health insurance will be able to get reimbursed for purchasing at-home rapid tests. The tests, which are often difficult to find because of supply shortages, are more expensive in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world — averaging about $25 per test, compared to just $1 per test in Germany, and free for residents of many other developed nations.

Reimbursement for at-home COVID tests won’t go into effect immediately, and it won’t be retroactive, meaning any tests Americans with private insurance have bought and paid for in the past won’t be covered. But White House officials hope this move will make it easier for more families to take advantage of the tests, which can be taken at home and provide results in just a few minutes. Tests administered at testing sites and doctor’s offices are already covered, but there are now at least eight brands of at-home tests available in American markets. The Biden administration hopes that these tests can become so widespread that Americans will be able to test themselves as soon as they exhibit symptoms, and go into quarantine if they test positive for the virus.

The Biden administration also plans to distribute 25 million at-home COVID tests to community health centers and rural clinics to help make them more accessible to Americans who live outside of cities. These government-provided tests will also be available for those who don’t have private insurance, like Americans who receive Medicaid.

In his winter COVID plan, Biden is also calling on employers to offer paid time off for their employees to get COVID booster shots. The plan will require negative COVID tests from international travelers coming to the U.S., regardless of their vaccination status. And the White House is also expected to announce an extension of its federal mask mandate on mass transit (including planes, trains, buses, and transit stations) until at least March.