While two separate administrations have now specified that health insurers must cover, without cost sharing, all COVID-19 tests used for individual diagnostic purposes, one trade group says that health plans are still getting stuck with the bill for workplace-related testing — and the problem is only going to get worse.

In an Oct. 5 letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) says its member organizations are already seeing testing costs for 2021 surpass levels for full-year 2020, and that for many members, “August was their highest month of tests paid for throughout the entire pandemic, with September data likely to continue the trend.”

“As Americans return to their workplace, children return to in-person school and social events begin to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, it is essential that the Administration reaffirm the financial responsibility for COVID testing,” the letter states. In February, the Biden administration issued guidance reaffirming that health plans are not responsible for covering tests done for “public health surveillance or employment purposes” — only tests that are for “individualized diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19.” (The Trump administration took the same stance, drawing the ire of some Democratic lawmakers.)

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