Not everyone can get rapid tests paid for; officials urge change for military insurance, Medicare


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When the Biden administration announced new requirements for insurers to pay for rapid COVID-19 tests, many older adults and military beneficiaries were left out.

Starting Jan. 15, the Biden administration started requiring most private insurance companies and group health plans to cover eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month and per individual.

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The insurance companies can reimburse members for buying these tests or set up networks of pharmacies where their members can get the tests paid for on the spot.

However, Medicare, TRICARE, and private Medicare Advantage plans are not required to cover rapid tests.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, said in a statement that he is among lawmakers who jointly sent two letters to the Biden administration urging them to extend their guidance requiring insurance companies to pay for rapid tests to include Medicare and TRICARE.

The letters were sent to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, urging the Department of Defense to expand TRICARE coverage to include at-home tests and to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

More than 2.3 million Ohioans are enrolled in Medicare.

The lawmakers in their letter to Becerra and Brooks-LaSure that “seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare are at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and people over 65 account for nearly three-quarters of all deaths from the virus. The current policy leaves them on the hook for potentially significant out-of-pocket costs.”

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The insurance changes are among several efforts by the federal government to increases coverage.

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests through or by calling1-800-232-0233.

The effort to increase access to rapid tests comes as cases remain high and the virus remains widespread in the area.

While the data is preliminary,11,849 Ohioans reported testing positive on Friday, or a little less than 25% of the 47,779 who got tested.

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