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State leaders encouraging Michiganders to take advantage of free over-the-counter COVID tests

(KVLY)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 2:35 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - State officials are encouraging Michiganders with health insurance to take advantage of a new federal rule that requires health insurers to cover the cost of eight over-the-counter COVID-19 home tests per month.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Director Anita Fox said that, beginning on Saturday, Michiganders should save receipts and boxes for COVID-19 tests purchased so they can submit them for future reimbursement, saving a family of four at least $384 a month.

“We will continue working with our federal partners to ensure that COVID-19 testing is more accessible and less expensive for every Michigander,” said Governor Whitmer. “Thanks to this new rule, a family of four, for example, can get 32 tests every month, saving them at least $384 every month. This expanded access to tests will lower costs and help limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Related: Where to get COVID testing in Mid-Michigan

“This new health insurance benefit will help reduce barriers to at-home COVID-19 testing for Michiganders,” said DIFS Director Fox. “Depending on the insurer, consumers may be able to get their covered tests for free at the store or pharmacy, or they may be required to keep receipts for later reimbursement. Following the guidance issued Monday by the federal government, insurers have begun developing their plans for offering this new benefit. DIFS will compile information from Michigan insurers as it becomes available, and more information will be posted in the coming weeks at Michigan.gov/DIFS.”

The new rule requires private insurers to cover the cost of up to eight FDA-approved over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month for each person covered by a health plan. Consumers’ out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on how the coverage is provided:

  • Through a network of preferred pharmacies or retailers: If your insurer establishes a network of preferred pharmacies or retailers, you can get over-the-counter COVID-19 tests with no up-front costs at those locations. If you choose to purchase your tests elsewhere, your insurer is required to reimburse you up to $12 for those tests.
  • Through reimbursement: If your insurer does not establish a network of a preferred pharmacies or retailers, you will have to pay up front for your tests, and your insurer will be required to reimburse you for the full purchase price of the covered tests.
  • Michigan Medicaid and MIChild: Participants of these programs have coverage for FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests.
  • If you do not have insurance: People without insurance can also get tested for free at some community health centers. More information about COVID-19 testing for people without insurance is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

The government’s testing plan goes further than they have required of insurance companies. Later in January all Michiganders will also have access to free at-home tests that will be sent directly to them upon request in the mail by the federal government. However, that program is new and information on how to apply for these at-home tests is not yet available.

Consumers who have questions that cannot be resolved directly with their insurer can contact DIFS 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442.

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