NEW YORK – On a press call by senior administration officials Wednesday evening, the White House announced that it is taking actions to expand at-home testing for COVID-19 in light of the Omicron variant.
Under the new plan, private health insurers will be required to cover 100 percent of the cost of at-home tests purchased by plan members, covering approximately 150 million people. However, tests purchased before the policy is enacted will not be retroactively covered, and people covered by public insurance will not be eligible for reimbursement, the administration officials said.
The officials added that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury will be working through the rule-making and releasing guidance by Jan. 15 to determine how many tests will be covered, and at what frequency.
The administration officials also said that the White House will distribute 50 million free at-home tests to community sites, including health centers and rural clinics, for people not covered by private insurance. This builds on an announcement from September that the administration would provide 25 million free tests to community sites.
"We had no tests on the market when we entered office," an official said. "We now have eight tests on the market, and supply will quadruple this month from where it was at the end of summer."
"We're doing a ton to ramp up all tests, but, specifically, a big focus on ramping up these at-home tests," the official added.
President Joe Biden is expected to officially unveil the plans Thursday afternoon.
They also include more stringent testing requirements for international travel as international travelers will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within one day of their departure to the US if they're traveling by air, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. Currently, foreign travelers to the US must be fully vaccinated and tested for the virus before and after coming to the US.