Covid test kits: How many kits are being offered per household?
The Biden administration rolled out its test request website and has been met with sharp criticism for the limits on tests and issues with data verification
On 19 January, millions took to CovidTest.gov to order free rapid tests that can be sent to homes around the country. As the world grapples with the Omicron variant, the United States has confirmed over a million new cases various times over the last few weeks. The daily average of new cases reported stands at 851,000.
While the federal government has touted the more than 20,000 testing centers around the country for those who have been unable to make a request online. However, many people, especially those in urban areas are reporting long lines and even longer wait times to get the results.
How many tests can be ordered?
No matter the size of the household only four tests can be ordered at one time.
This has proven to be a controversial decision that many have called unjust. Based on data taken by the US Census Bureau through the Household Pulse Survey found that of the sixty-seven million people in rental units, one in five lived in a house with five or more people. When looking at that figure based on the number that own their home, the number was more than one in ten.
The decision to limit the number across the board, rather than sending tests by the number of people who live in that unit, has been widely criticized as it harms low-income people, inter-genrational households, and homes with a higher number of roommates.The US Census Bureau has data on the number of people who live in most houses across the country, and many question why that was not used when developing the tool.
The administration has said that decision was made to "promote broad access, the initial program will only allow 4 free individual tests per residential address." On social media, people in other areas, like the United Kingdom have said that they are allowed to order seven tests every twenty-hour hours.
When can I reorder more rapid tests?
The date for when people will be able to refill their order has not been set.
Guidance for the uninsured
Other than being sent tests, the federal government urges people to go to one of the the thousands of testing sites. However, with long lines this can seem like a worse option for those who either do not have access to the internet, live in larger homes, and do not have access to private health insurance.
The federal government has allocated "50 million free, at-home tests to community health centers and Medicare-certified health clinics for distribution at no cost to patients and community members."
How can I get reimbursed for a test through my insurance company?
Starting on 15 January, the administration implemented a mandate that insurance companies reimburse plan holders for the costs of up to eight tests per member each month. The federal government is urging insurance companies to establish locations where members can pick up tests for free. but many are pushing back and requiring a receipt for reimbursement. This puts additional pressure on members and could lead to the government paying higher prices for tests.
Medicaid and CHIP
Those who receive their insurance through government programs like Medicaid and CHIP must have the cost of their tests covered as a part of the plan through legal changes made under the American Rescue Plan.
To better understand your options, the federal government recommends contacting the "state Medicaid or CHIP agency for information regarding the specifics of coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests, as coverage rules may vary by state."