Long Islanders who have become accustomed to free COVID-19 testing may now have to start paying for it. At-home testing kits are expected to cost $10 or more, and in-office tests may average $130 to $150. Experts predict that some people may choose to forego testing due to the expenses. The federal COVID-19 public health emergency expired on May 11, and insurance companies are now required to pay $8 per insured person per month. As a result, the government will no longer provide free tests, and insurance companies may no longer cover at-home tests.
A recent analysis by a San Francisco-based medical institution found that rapid or antigen testing costs about $130, including a consultation fee, while a typical PCR test costs $150. Policy non-profit experts predict that ending free testing may mean more people unknowingly spreading the virus and becoming seriously ill. For many Americans, adding the expense of testing is challenging, especially for those who cannot afford it.
Senior vice president and global director Jennifer Cates from KFF Health and HIV Policy stated that COVID-19 is now being treated like any other disease, with consumers potentially facing large bills, unexpected expenses, and difficult choices like foregoing treatment or testing because it is too expensive. People who unknowingly have COVID-19 can put others at serious potential risk, said Dr. Martin Hackett, director of public health programs at Hofstra University.
Many Long Islanders are divided on whether they will continue testing. Some will pay for it because they have families to protect, while others may forego testing because they cannot afford it. Although Medicaid still covers testing, many insurance companies no longer pay for at-home tests, and lab tests may have copayments or deductibles. Sun River Health and Harmony Healthcare are among the few places where Long Islanders can still get free testing at home.
Sales of COVID-19 tests were plummeting even before costs were applied, according to data from a Chicago-based data analytics firm. This is partly because the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths has decreased, which eliminates the need for testing in many businesses and medical facilities. However, testing is still crucial to protect those at serious potential risk from COVID-19, such as the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Experts predict that the expiration date of the COVID-19 home test may be extended, but it is essential to check the FDA website to confirm whether the test is still valid.