The White House announced Monday that the Biden administration would be making over-the-counter at-home COIVD-19 rapid tests available in the U.S. for free.
Well, sort of.
OK, not really.
What the administration has actually done is require private health insurance companies to cover the cost of the tests (up to eight a month, per person), either through outright coverage or reimbursement.
COVID-19 Testing Update: Today, our administration announced that beginning January 15, 2022, individuals covered by a health insurance plan who purchase an FDA-approved, over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test will be able to have those tests covered by their insurance.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 10, 2022
For many people, this is certainly better than the nothing we were currently getting, as most OTC tests tend to be in the $20 each range—and that’s if you can actually find one—and for families or for people having to take them regularly, that can quickly add up to a fully prohibitive cost. ($20 is also 2.75 hours of work at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour so we can’t pretend like the cost of even one test isn’t prohibitive for millions of people in this country.)
However, this plan doesn’t help any of the tens of millions of people in the U.S. who don’t have insurance—plus those insured by Medicare, which does not appear to cover these tests.
And even for those who do have private insurance, and who luck out and find a test in a store (or online), it seems, at best, to be very stressful and at worst totally impractical and restrictive, to not know whether that test will be free or if you’ll have to front the cash for it (and then go through the burdensome process of filing an insurance claim) until you’re standing at the register.
What about people without insurance? Why isn’t the government providing this for everyone? If healthcare is a human right, why are ppl still unable to access basic things they need to survive the pandemic simply b/c they don’t have insurance or $$? https://t.co/c16M6lBjBd
— Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) January 11, 2022
Even if you have insurance (30 million Americans don’t) making you request reimbursement from your insurer just means the government is forcing you to loan money at 0% interest to a multi-million dollar company who gets to decide if they have to pay you back at all.
— isi baehr-breen (its pronounced ‘izzy’) (@isaiah_bb) January 11, 2022
“Good news! We will reimburse you for up to eight COVID tests!”
“If I have private insurance.”
“And if I can find the tests. Which I can’t.”
“Plus to get reimbursed I have to fill out a half-dozen convoluted web-forms that will crash on me.”
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) January 11, 2022
The “go get a free Covid test but it might not be free, you might have to file a claim with your insurance company” nonsense is an ADD trap.
Just mail the tests to people.
— Just Regular Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) January 11, 2022
something very ten-dollar-banana in delivering aid via reimbursements and tax credits; it assumes everyone CAN float any arbitrary amount of cash and just sort of emotionally desires to be “made whole”, there’s no concept that a person can literally not have money
— Cliff 🦖 Jerrison 🏳️⚧️ (@pervocracy) January 11, 2022
The Biden administration isn’t totally ignoring the uninsured and underpaid. In addition to the free-but-not-really-free OTC tests, they’re also sending 50 million at-home tests to community health centers and Medicare clinics. The administration is also purchasing 500 million at-home tests that can be requested online from a website they say they’ll be setting up this month, to be mailed out for free to anyone who wants one.
All of which is very nice but still falls far short of what we actually need:
JUST. GIVE. THE. FUCKING. TESTS. AWAY. EVERYWHERE. YOU. CAN. WITHOUT. PAPERWORK. YES. I. LITERALLY. MEAN. GIVE. THEM. AWAY. FOR. FREE. AT. SCHOOLS. IN. THE. MAIL. AT. VAX. SITES. WITHOUT. INSURANCE. OR. FORMS. OR. WEBSITES. JUST. PUT. TESTS. IN. HANDS. AND. UP. NOSES. FOR. FREE! https://t.co/oEycINtfTU
— Dr. Thrasher (@thrasherxy) January 11, 2022
And throw in some free upgraded masks while you’re at it.
(image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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