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Agencies Issue Guidance on Coverage of OTC COVID-19 Tests

Agencies Issue Guidance on Coverage of OTC COVID-19 Tests

January 12, 2022

On January 10, 2022, the Depts. of Labor, Health & Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury issued FAQ guidance regarding the requirements for group health plans and health insurance issuers to cover over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

Legal Requirements

Plans and issuers must cover the costs of COVID-19 tests during the COVID-19 public health emergency without imposing any cost-sharing requirements, prior authorization, or medical management requirements.

Under guidance issued in June 2020, at-home COVID-19 tests had to be covered only if they were ordered by a health care provider who determined that the test was medically appropriate for the individual. At that time, the FDA had not yet authorized any at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests. Since then, several types of OTC at-home tests have been approved.

As of January 15, 2022, the cost of these tests must be covered, even if they are obtained without the involvement of a health care provider. However, the FAQs do not require tests be covered if they are not for individualized diagnosis (such as tests for employment purposes).

Plan Options

Plans and insurance issuers may place some limits on coverage, such as:

  • Requiring individuals to purchase a test and submit a claim for reimbursement, rather than providing direct coverage to sellers.
  • Providing direct coverage through pharmacy networks or direct-to-consumer shipping programs and limiting reimbursements to other sources (the actual cost of the test, or $12, whichever is lower).
  • Setting limits on the number or frequency of OTCCOVID-19 tests that are covered (no less than 8 tests per month or 30-day period).
  • Taking steps to prevent, detect and address fraud and abuse.


Stay tuned as this issue continues to rapidly develop and we will keep you updated on any new developments. CMS Q&A has also provided some guidance. And for a copy of this news brief, click here: Agencies Issue Guidance on Coverage of OTC COVID-19 Tests .

Reach out to Mike Young today for more content on this new coverage for OTC COVID-19 test reimbursements and to discuss how further updates can affect your business at 714.716.4060 or mike@my-EBP.com .