Biden’s reimbursement plan
Today, the Biden administration revealed details of its plan for Americans to receive reimbursements for home virus tests via private insurance. Here’s what you need to know:
Americans can get reimbursement for eight at-home coronavirus test per person per month, starting Saturday, according to my colleagues Noah Weiland & Sarah Kliff.
Patients who provide their insurance information can get the tests at no extra cost at certain pharmacies. In other cases, they will need to file claims to their insurance companies for reimbursement, as they do for other medical services.
The administration stated that tests ordered by or administered by a doctor will continue to fall under the insurance plan without a copayment or deductible.
This policy does not apply to any tests that Americans have purchased.
Roughly 150 million Americans have private insurance, and the Biden administration has begun separate efforts to reach people regardless of insurance status — including a plan to deliver 500 million no-cost rapid tests to the homes of Americans who order them some time this month.
To counter the current wave of cases, some U.S. local governments have made more investments in rapid testing. Washington, D.C., allows residents to get four rapid tests free of charge every day at eight libraries in the city.
The tests are typically priced between $14 and $34 per pack and have sold quickly at grocery stores and pharmacies. Manufacturers are racing to replenish shelves.
What’s new in testing
There has been a lot confusion lately about rapid at home tests. So I called Tara Parker Pope, my colleague, to get the most recent guidance. Here are some things she recommends you keep in mind.
The tests aren’t perfect. “I think people are confused because you can test negative one day and still have Covid a few days later,” Tara said. “It doesn’t mean the test is wrong; it just means the viral load is too low for the test to pick it up.”
Experts suggest that early symptoms could be a sign that the vaccine-primed immune system has been fighting the virus. “It could be that your antibodies are fighting off the virus, and so the initial symptoms may be an indicator of our immune system at work,” Tara said. So if you have Covid symptoms but test negative, that does not mean you’re in the clear — you should still continue to test a few more times.
Listen to your body. “If your test is negative and you’ve got a sore throat and a headache and you’re congested, why would you believe the test over your own body?” Tara asked. “We have to get over this idea that if we’re negative for Covid, it’s OK to be around somebody with the sniffles or a cough — it’s not. We expect these tests to be perfect, but they can’t replace your own good judgment if you’re coughing and sneezing and have a fever.”
Remember to think of others. Remember, tests don’t keep us well — they keep us from infecting other people. “I think that message has gotten a little lost in the testing conversation,” Tara said. “Tests are a huge help, but you still need a multilayered approach of wearing a mask, protecting yourself, avoiding crowded situations.”
Should I also swab the throat? In Israel, health officials have recommended that people swab the nose and the throat when using rapid tests to increase the chance that they’ll detect an infection with the Omicron variant. The F.D.A. is used in the U.S. The F.D.A. advised against the practice, Tara said, “to avoid invalid results or injuries.”
Tara said she couldn’t recommend throat-swabbing at the moment because of the lack of data on the practice, but she is personally open to trying both ways of testing with her daughter, who is visiting. “But do you want to possibly waste a test when your goal is to have many tests available so you can keep testing?” Tara asked. “I think it makes more sense to use your test wisely, especially if you’re using them to be around an at-risk person.”
Tara stated that the F.D.A. The F.D.A. should offer guidance on the matter to Americans, Tara added. “We need thoughtful, science-backed health advice,” she said. “And I feel like the F.D.A. is just trying to tamp this down versus exploring the question and giving us the answer.”
Read Tara’s full guide How to use home rapid tests.
My colleague Davey Alba reports that coronavirus cases have increased in recent weeks. However, online misinformation about Covid testing has also increased.
On TikTok and Instagram, videos of at-home virus tests displaying positive results after being soaked in drinking water and juice have been shared widely in recent weeks, and they’ve been used to push the false narrative that such tests don’t work.
Previously, pandemic-related falsehoods were focused on vaccines, masks, and the severity of virus. But, the Omicron variant’s recent demand for testing has provided an opportunity for misinformation purveyors to profit from.
According to Zignal Labs which tracks misinformation, falsehoods about tests proliferated in the last three month of 2021 compared to just a few in the same period in 2020.
There are no perfect medical tests, and legitimate concerns about the accuracy coronavirus test results have been raised throughout this pandemic. There is always a chance of false positives or false negatives.
Tara stated that home testing can lower risk and ease worry, which allows you to spend more time with the people you love. Don’t let misinformation cloud the picture.
What else we’re following
What you’re doing
Over the past year, I come to work, sit down at my desk and my foot inadvertently hits a coronavirus piñata. So, you might ask, “What are you doing with a coronavirus piñata under your desk?” I’ve had the privilege of working in senior care for the last 33 years. Last year, around this time, we celebrated the arrival and recognized the incredible work of our staff by holding a week-long celebration. We gave our staff a week-long certificate to launch the week. the opportunity to take a swing at a coronavirus piñata. Wow, did they swing. We ordered 12 and smashed open 11 — only because at the last minute I took one and put it under my desk. Why? Perhaps because at that moment, I realized that although vaccination was the first step in the process, we still had a long road ahead. I am still contemplating the criteria for bringing out the last piñata. Is it when we reach a certain number of national vaccinations Is it when there is a pandemic or an epidemic? Is it when masks or testing are not necessary? Or is it when we know that those we care about are inherently safe? I’m open for suggestions.
— Denise Hubler, Rochester, N.Y.
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Source: NY Times