At-home COVID tests will soon be covered by private insurance, President Joe Biden said Tuesday, after record-setting numbers of coronavirus cases have surged demand for the rapid detection kits.
Biden previewed the timing about a month after he first announced that his administration would begin the rulemaking process to require private insurance to reimburse the tests' cost, which covers about 150 million Americans.
“Next week, our requirement that your insurance company reimburse you for at-home tests takes effect,” he said before a briefing from his COVID-19 response team. “If you're insured, you can buy the test and get paid for it.”
The rule will be overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. The at-home tests can range from $7-$15 each, and health experts recommend “serial testing” using multiple tests to confirm one’s result.
The president also noted that his administration would soon launch a website where Americans can go to order rapid tests and get them shipped to their homes for free, but it’s unclear when that distribution will be up and running.
The website will be used to give out 500 million free tests, the president announced last month, and the administration is working to finalize the purchasing contracts.
A White House official told Spectrum News that the contracts to secure the millions of tests could be finalized by the end of this week, and the White House press secretary said Tuesday that they expect the first deliveries "later this month."
President Biden on Tuesday also doubled down on a serious, direct message to unvaccinated Americans.
“If you're unvaccinated, you have some reason to be alarmed. Many of you will – you'll experience severe illness,” he said. “Some will die, needlessly die. Unvaccinated are taking up hospital beds and crowding emergency rooms and intensive care units.”
“So please, please, please get vaccinated now,” he added. “We have in hand all the vaccines we need to get every American fully vaccinated, including the booster shot. So there's no excuse, no excuse for anyone being unvaccinated.
There are still 35 million eligible Americans who are unvaccinated, Biden noted. More than 205 million people are fully vaccinated, and nearly 69 million have gotten a booster shot, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.