The COVID-19 pandemic has truly altered the landscape of how businesses operate. Since vaccine distribution has become more widespread, many companies that have been working remotely since March 2020 are finally transitioning back into the office. While this may be a good thing, the Covid-19 virus is not going away anytime soon, and many risks are still present.
As we have all seen and experienced with the recent pandemic, outbreaks must be quickly identified to be contained, and testing has become the front line of global health to slow or stop their spread. The best way for businesses to do their part is by making sure employees can get tested to help prevent exposure in the office.
How Can I Get a Free At-Home Covid Test for My Employees?
If you participate in a health plan—through an employer or otherwise— you are likely eligible for free, over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for home use. Depending on your plan, your COVID-19 tests will be paid for directly by insurance, or you will be reimbursed later. The human resources (HR) department can tell you which applies to you.
Keep reading to learn more about this cost-saving opportunity.
Up to what price is covered?
In many instances, insurance companies are only required to reimburse you at a rate of up to $12 per individual test (or the cost of the test if it’s less than $12). This is typically the case when your insurance company has specific locations they want you to get your test from. However, if your insurance company doesn’t specify where you may get a COVID-19 test, you may be able to be reimbursed for your full test cost, even if it exceeds $12. In all cases, keep your receipts! Speak with HR to learn more about your plan’s cost limits and preferred purchasing locations.
Do I need to purchase the test at a certain location for it to be free?
Many have specific locations (e.g., pharmacies) where you can pick up a free test that is paid for directly by your insurance. HR will be able to tell you. However, you can also purchase a COVID-19 test from anywhere you like (i.e., online or in-person at a store) and still be reimbursed up to $12 for the test (or more, depending on your plan). Be sure to keep your receipts in order to be reimbursed.
How will I be reimbursed for my test?
If you need to be reimbursed for a COVID-19 test (i.e., it was not free at the point of sale), keep your receipts. Then, reach out to HR—they will be able to tell you how to submit the receipt for reimbursement from your insurance company.
How long will reimbursement take?
Reimbursement is typically prompt, but it may vary. HR will be able to provide a more accurate time estimate.
What if I cannot afford to pay for a test upfront and wait for reimbursement?
There are several low- or no-cost COVID-19 testing options. You can find community-based testing sites here. Alternatively, tests are available without cost sharing or limitations to covered individuals when administered by a healthcare provider (e.g., a nurse, doctor, or pharmacist).
Can I be reimbursed for past COVID-19 tests I purchased?
Insurance companies are only obligated to reimburse you for COVID-19 tests purchased on or after Jan. 15, 2022. Any tests bought before then are not covered. However, while the answer will generally be no, you still can speak with your plan sponsor about potential reimbursement for COVID-19 tests you bought previously.
Is there a limit on the number of tests I can be reimbursed for?
Your plan is required to provide reimbursement for eight tests per month, regardless of whether the tests are bought all at once or at separate times throughout the month.
My workplace requires weekly COVID-19 testing. Can I be reimbursed for these tests?
Plans are not required to provide coverage for testing (including at-home COVID-19 tests) that is for employment purposes. Speak with HR to learn more about testing requirements and your potential related costs.
Does my Healthcare Provider cover at-home tests?
Below are three common healthcare providers that cover at-home testing. Any others not listed should seek out more information from their healthcare provider.
- Priority Health
- $0 over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 test kits if you purchase them from the counter of an in-network pharmacy and show your Priority Health member ID card at the point of purchase.
- Required to cover up to eight (8) at-home over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 diagnostic tests authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) per month (defined as a 30-day period) for members in Commercial health plans.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
- All individuals with pharmacy coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network have more ways to get at-home COVID-19 rapid diagnostic tests at no cost.
- Please note that up to eight BCN / BCBSM at-home tests are free each month when you pick them up at the pharmacy.
Want to learn more about what’s covered on your insurance plan? Reach out to the Austin Benefits team today at 888-277-0077.