Many large insurers lack consumer-friendly COVID-19 test coverage policies
Big insurers begin implementing new Biden administration Require Home COVID-19 testing is covered, but some payer policies are friendlier than others, according to a new analyze From the Kaiser Family Foundation.
While some insurers, such as UnitedHealth Group, allow members to purchase rapid tests for free at in-network pharmacies or at “preferred” retailers like Walmart, others, including Cigna and Care First, require members to purchase tests at their own expense and mail reimbursement claims .
KFF researched policies from 13 insurers, each covering more than 1 million people, and found that about half of them offer free home testing direct coverage through pharmacies or retailers, while others require members to use a website or mail Apply for reimbursement.
Of the five insurers that do not currently offer direct testing coverage, four require members to use a mail-in form to request reimbursement: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Shield of California, Care First and Cigna.
Anthem does not have a direct coverage option, but allows members to submit claims online.
According to the analysis, Kaiser Permanente plans offer direct insurance options but also allow online reimbursement. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan said they are working to create a network of pharmacies that would make free testing “more accessible” to members.
Blue Cross Blue Shield, Centene/Ambetter, Guidewell, Health Care Service Corporation, Humana, and UnitedHealth Group in North Carolina all allow direct coverage through in-network pharmacies or other retailers they work with. Some of these programs, including North Carolina’s Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana, still require members to seek reimbursement for tests purchased out-of-network to mail a claim.
“In some ways, this can be more complicated for consumers,” said Lin Tsui-sen, associate director of KFF and co-author of the analysis.
“It’s very variable,” Dawson said. “People really have to understand what their own insurers are doing and asking, not what other people, their friends or their family might be doing.”
Biden administration guide The business plan, released last week, calls for reimbursement to policyholders for eight COVID-19 tests each month at home. The policy, which went into effect Jan. 15, has caused some insurers to scramble to find testing or retail partners, said Ceci Connolly, president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, which represents small nonprofit payers.Administration first Announce request last month.
Home testing is in high demand, and the lack of available tests has complicated the effort, she said, and ACHP insurers have struggled to find pharmacies or retailers to work with.
“At the same time, we’re concerned that people will feel like there are eight tests in their local pharmacy with their name on it,” Connolly said.
UnitedHealth Group President and CEO Dirk McMahon told shareholders on Wednesday’s earnings call that the insurer has partnered with Walmart and Rite Aid to let consumers test at home for free within four days of the authorization going into effect.
“We expect more partnerships in the coming days,” McMahon said. “Going forward, we believe we have the appropriate capabilities to execute on our business priorities and meet our customers’ expectations.”
Because of the omicron variant, President Joe Biden is more focused on rapid testing.White House announces effort This week, every household is offering four free home COVID-19 tests per month to anyone who orders through covidtests.gov. Starting next week, more than 400 million N95 masks will also be free for people to pick up at pharmacies and other locations.