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The Biden Administration announced Monday that private insurance companies must cover the cost of COVID-19 testing for their customers.
“Today, my administration announced that health insurers will be required to cover the cost of at-home COVID testing kits starting January 15th,” President Biden said in a tweet. The requirements will to go into effect on Saturday.
The new regulations require insurers to cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per person, per month. Insurers must also cover any tests “ordered or administered by a healthcare professional.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Monday the move is “part of our overall strategy to ramp-up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost.”
Officials also say they are finalizing an online portal for Americans to have free COVID tests mailed directly to their homes.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said tests will start going out in the next few weeks. The White House also expects to have additional details on the website and a hotline in place “later this week”.
Latest COVID surge continues to shatter records as people race to get vaccinated
The news of more COVID tests came as the nation shattered records once again for new daily cases. On Monday alone, health departments around the country reported more than 1.4 million new COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, an average of 1,692 Americans are dying from the virus every day. It’s the highest average daily death toll since mid-October.
President Biden, who came into office promising to “get the virus under control”, has faced criticism for critically low access to testing. Many Americans are still unable to find over-the-counter tests at their local pharmacy and testing appointments in some areas are backed up for days.
Following the latest surge, communities have seen an increase in vaccinations across the country. According to “Our World in Data”, at least 75% of Americans have now received at least one vaccine dose. More than 206 million Americans have their full vaccination and over 75 million have their booster shot.
Health officials continue to urge Americans to get their vaccines and their boosters immediately. According to the HHS Public Data Hub, 80% of the nation’s ICU beds are full. Nearly one in three patients in the ICU right now are there because of COVID-19.