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.
Strategies for States to Drive Equitable Vaccine Distribution and Administration
Manatt Health and Health Equity Solutions
On Thursday, August 12, State Health and Value Strategies hosted a webinar during which experts from Manatt Health and Health Equity Solutions provided an overview of the strategies states can pursue in partnership with community-based organizations to reduce disparities in COVID-19 vaccine uptake, and in the longer term, to build a more equitable and sustainable public health system.
While more than 20 states and the District of Columbia reached the Biden administration’s goal of administering one or more COVID-19 vaccine doses to at least 70 percent of adults by early July, wide variation in vaccination rates persists across communities within these states and among the 30 states still working to reach this goal. This variation in vaccination rates at the community level translates to disparities across racial and ethnic groups, as most states continue to have disparities in vaccination rates between Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and white populations. States and their community partners are implementing a broad range of distribution and outreach strategies to improve vaccine equity, including by increasing access points, improving vaccine confidence, combatting misinformation, and addressing structural barriers to vaccination for BIPOC. In addition, states are beginning to look ahead to establish strategies to vaccinate children and adolescents and build sustainable infrastructure and capacity to advance health equity within state and local public health and health care delivery systems.
State Health and Value strategies also published a companion expert perspective and issue brief, Strategies for States to Drive Equitable Vaccine Distribution and Administration.