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Thanks for the reminder!
This is a rollout that leaves me scratching my head. The current limit is four test per home, regardless of number of people at that home. If you're affluent enough to have a second home, it looks as though you can get more home tests from the US government, free. Others may have to pay for additional tests.
You can get more free home tests, up to eight per person, through private insurance. Unless that private insurance is Medicare Advantage.
If you're poor (Medicaid) or older (Medicare), and need additional tests, you can stand in line in the cold for a non-at-home test. Been there, done that (wanted a test quickly).
In short, the more likely you are to be ill (poor, old, uninsured) the harder it is to get enough convenient (at home), subsidized (free from gov or private insurance) tests.
This is in addition to the 4 free home test kits that can be ordered through the post office.
These home tests have 70-90% accuracy, and a negative test doesn't mean that one is in the clear. Also, multiple tests are better than single tests.
The 4 US government-provided tests are per residence, one time only (for now).
The 8 private insurer-covered tests are per person, per month.
Even among private insurers, it's only some of their customers who are covered for home tests. For example, United Health Care Medicare Advantage (usually branded AARP) writes about home test kit coverage: UNH is a private insurer. It now constitutes 3% of PRWCX, which has been on a buying spree.
".....As part of its effort to contend with Covid-19, the Biden administration is requiring health insurers to cover the cost of home tests for most Americans with private insurance.....Consumers can buy home tests online or in stores and have them paid for at the time of purchase or get reimbursed by submitting a claim to their insurer. They do not need to visit their doctor or get a prescription to obtain the free tests.....Insurers must pay for up to eight tests per covered individual per month under the program, which launched Saturday.....However, Medicare is not subject to this requirement, so the tens of millions of senior citizens and Americans with disabilities in the traditional Medicare program cannot get reimbursed.....And the roughly 27 million Medicare Advantage enrollees, who receive Medicare coverage through private insurers, must check with their carriers if they will pick up the tab....."
IOW, for these private insurers, nothing¹ has changed. Before Jan 15, they like all private insurers could voluntarily pick up the tab², but didn't. And after Jan 14, they could still pick up the tab, but don't. At least I haven't found one that does. So far, I've checked Humana, UnitedHealthcare, and Aetna.
¹ Technically there was a change even for these insurers: their exposure after Jan 14th could be limited to $12/test should they voluntarily add coverage.
² "Insurers can, but are not required to, reimburse enrollees for OTC COVID-19 tests purchased prior to January 15."
Source for both footnotes: HealthAffairs.org. Excellent article with links to government releases.
Covid-19 has been a bonanza for health care providers. That's why the $12 cap was imposed. Testing labs are not subject to caps. By not covering home tests, the government (original Medicare, Medicaid) and private insurers (Medicare Advantage) wind up more likely to be gouged. Penny wise and pound foolish.
Consumer Reports: "U.S. rules allow labs to charge whatever they want for tests"
Instead of N per residence address, regardless of number of people, three masks per person will be provided.
While one will still have to venture outside to get those masks, they will be available at local pharmacies much as vaccines are.