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At-home COVID-19 testing to be paid by health insurance

People will be able to get free coronavirus home testing kits through their health insurance.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — COVID-19 continues to surge throughout the WNEP viewing area. Doctors at UPMC Williamsport are closely monitoring the virus. Hospitalizations are currently trending upwards.

"If you have many, many more of less severe disease cases, then the denominator will go up, and that might translate to an increase in hospitalizations," said Dr. Rutul Dalal, an infectious disease expert at UPMC.

According to the CDC, 95 percent of COVID-19 cases across the country are of the omicron variant. This variant of the virus is easily transmissible, and doctors expect cases to peak at the end of the month.

"We are peaking but we have not fully peaked yet. We are at 65 patients in the northcentral Pennsylvania region, of which 11 are in the ICU, and six of them are on the ventilator."

With this surge in cases, doctors say testing continues to be vital. As of January 15, folks will be able to get up to eight COVID home tests per person for free through their private insurer.

Folks should contact their insurance company to find out which retail stores and/or pharmacies they are partnering with, and the insurer will cover the cost on the spot. Or you can submit a receipt to your health insurance company and be reimbursed fully or partially, depending upon the store where the kit was purchased.

"You can get yourself diagnosed quicker, get treated quicker, and can quarantine quicker. Definitely a game-changer. People do not want to spend money for the antigen test, and as you said, private insurers will be mandated to cover them."

If you do test positive over the coming weeks, medical professionals want to make sure you avoid serious infection.

"We are seeing omicron being diagnosed even in the vaccinated individuals, but at the same time, the symptoms for those folks are more like a common cold."

The Biden administration recently announced its plans to distribute one billion free home tests to Americans. 

ONLINE ORDERS: https://www.covidtests.gov
PHONE ORDERS: 
1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489)

Watch more stories about the coronavirus pandemic on WNEP’s YouTube page.