On January 15, 2022, health insurers will be subject to new federal requirements to cover and waive cost-sharing for over-the-counter diagnostic tests for COVID-19 for the duration of the federal public health emergency. Past federal guidance required insurers to fully cover COVID-19 tests, but allowed them to require enrollees to first obtain a health professional’s determination that a test is medically necessary. The new requirements, published January 10, enable consumers to obtain the tests directly from pharmacies or online retailers without being seen by a health professional. With case rates surging and the costs of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests ranging from $14 to $34, this new benefit should provide significant financial relief to privately insured individuals. This expert perspective focuses on key provisions of the new coverage requirements as well as health equity considerations and implications for state insurance regulators.
Financing Shared Administrative Functions Between State-Based Marketplaces and State Medicaid Programs: Cost Allocation Methodologies
Tricia Leddy, Mark Larson, and Christian Heiss, Center for Health Care Strategies
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides opportunities for expanded access to health coverage through both the expansion of Medicaid and the establishment of health insurance marketplaces. State-based marketplaces (SBMs), as pathways to both public and private health coverage, are required to perform cross-program functions that support access to both qualified health plans (QHPs) available through the marketplace, as well as coverage through Medicaid. While these shared functions create an opportunity for savings through enhanced efficiency, they also require states to properly attribute funding to both through a process known as cost allocation. This issue brief, prepared by the Center for Health Care Strategies, builds on a previously released analysis of cost allocation methodologies, by providing an in-depth view of the mechanics of implementing cost allocation between Medicaid and marketplace programs.