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Insurers to stop covering at-home COVID test kits as federal public health emergency ends

Joe Amon
Connecticut Public

Health insurers in Connecticut will no longer be required to cover the cost of over-the-counter COVID-19 test kits, after the federal public health emergency ends on Thursday, May 11.

The shift in coverage indicates the next phase in the nation’s public health response to the pandemic. In Connecticut, the number of COVID-19 infections are declining, according to the latest weekly data from the state Department of Health. Hospitalizations are at their lowest point in the state since the summer of 2021.

Still, infectious disease experts like Dr. Scott Roberts, associate medical director for infection prevention at Yale New Haven Hospital, are concerned.

“It's hard to prevent the spread of COVID, if you don't know if you have COVID, and you otherwise could,” Roberts said. “That is a large challenge that we will face.”

He expects cases to surge in the winter, but worries that fewer people will buy test kits at full price – anywhere from $10 to $45.

“I am certain that price will be a large barrier for a number of patients that we see,” he said. “I fear that's the unfortunate reality we will face.”

COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be fully covered by insurers. But there could be co-pays if one is vaccinated by an out-of-network provider.

Private health insurers are also expected to increase the out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatments including the drugs Paxlovid and Lagevrio.

“During the public health crisis, a lot of those deductibles and the normal way that your insurance policy worked was waived,” Gerard O'Sullivan, director of consumer affairs for the Connecticut Insurance Department, said. “So it's really getting back to the way that your contract would have worked in the first place, which is very dependent on your individual plan.”

Medicaid will continue to fully cover COVID-19 treatments until September of next year.

Cities cutting back on COVID-19 testing services

The City of Hartford is closing its COVID-19 testing location at Arroyo Recreation Center on Thursday, May 11.

“We are working to make sure that Hartford residents have access to testing through other means,” said Jessica Fourquet, interim director of Health and Human Services, in a statement.

The city will receive an additional supply of at-home COVID tests, which will be available to residents at recreation centers, senior centers, the Health & Human Services office at 131 Coventry Street, and at Hartford Public Library branches.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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