Author: Ria Feldman

New federal guidance: Health plans to cover cost of rapid antigen home tests

The highly contagious omicron variant continues to spread throughout our communities. Vaccination and boosters provide the best protection against severe illness from COVID-19.  Testing is also an important tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19. While Kaiser Permanente has provided over 68,000 daily tests, demand currently exceeds capacity. Rapid antigen home tests, also called rapid COVID tests or self tests, offer another way to help reduce the spread. Health plans are now reimbursing members for these at-home tests.

Kaiser Permanente to cover cost of COVID-19 rapid antigen home tests

Following guidance from the Biden administration, Kaiser Permanente will now reimburse members for FDA-approved rapid antigen home tests. Members can submit a reimbursement claim for tests purchased on or after January 15, 2022.

Currently, there is a nationwide shortage of rapid antigen home tests. Kaiser Permanente, like other health care organizations, has access to a very limited supply of tests. We are working to get tests and make them available to our members through a number of outlets, including mail-order. We will share details as they become available.

How to get FDA-approved rapid antigen home tests

  • Starting January 19, members can request free rapid antigen home tests, without shipping fees, from the federal government. [https://www.covidtests.gov/]
  • Rapid antigen home tests are also available at local drugstores or online. Kaiser Permanente will reimburse members for FDA-approved rapid antigen home tests purchased on or after January 15th.
  • In the coming days, as supply of tests increases, we will make more rapid antigen home tests available to members. Visit kp.org for the most up-to-date information on supply, testing, and vaccinations. <kp.org/coronavirus>

Guidance on types of COVID-19 tests

Rapid antigen home tests are a fast, easy way to get a quick result if members have symptoms, think they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or plan to gather indoors with those who may be at risk including unvaccinated children, older individuals, and those who are immunocompromised. Results are typically available within 30 minutes. < https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-emergency-use-authorizations-medical-devices/in-vitro-diagnostics-euas-antigen-diagnostic-tests-sars-cov-2>

PCR tests are usually processed in a lab and results are typically available in 1-3 days. At Kaiser Permanente, PCR tests are required for members who are coming in for certain clinical procedures that require a negative test in advance. For more detail, visit our COVID-19 testing FAQs. [https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness/coronavirus-information/testing#faqs ]

Kaiser Permanente is committed to the safety of our members, care teams, and communities. We will get through this challenging time, together.

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