"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Costs could lead on many to forego COVID testing: Why it is a problem

September 14, 2023 – For Becky Robertson of Dallas, COVID-19 testing is putting a strain on her wallet now that the federal government and her insurance aren’t any longer covering the prices. She said she pays about $30 per test to maintain herself and her family protected. In fact, it has change into so expensive that if she or a member of the family develops symptoms, as a substitute of getting tested, they’ll quarantine at home reasonably than spend extra money to be protected.

And she is just not the just one. Katie Camerona recently laid-off journalist from Edison, NJ, said she, too, is combating the rising cost of COVID testing. Her husband is a medical student and continually battles a scratchy throat and other symptoms as he walks across the hospital. Because of his exposure, they each test themselves ceaselessly to guard those around them.

For example, if certainly one of her close friends is having a baby, she likes to check before the visit out of caution. Still, says Camero, “being considerate really gets expensive.”

With the top of the COVID-19 health emergency on June 11th the BundThe government not covers the price of COVID PCR and antigen tests. However, it's value noting that at-home antigen tests will still be covered by Medicaid through 2024. Medicare covers the price of COVID tests without spending a dime if prescribed by a health care provider. This includes PCR and antigen tests done in a health care provider's office or hospital, but not tests done at home.

During the general public health emergency, the tests needed to be covered by insurance, in order that they were free for insured patients. But since then, the choice on whether to cover the prices has again been as much as the states, employers or insurance firms. “Privately insured people are finding that COVID tests are now comparable to flu tests in terms of cost,” said Christina SilcoxPhD, research director for digital health on the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy in Washington, DC..

This got here after a surge in cases and hospitalizations. Nationwide, COVID hospitalizations are up by 9% for the week ending September 2nd and COVID deaths have increased by 10%, based on the CDC. And it'an even bigger concern that we will not be'We don’t yet know the true extent of the rise because the price may cause some to forego testing, meaning that individuals who don’t'People who have no idea they’re infected take less stringent precautions to stop the spread.

When you add costs to COVID exhaustion, you increase the incentive not to get tested at all,” Silcox said.

While the data doesn't yet indicate whether cost is discouraging people from getting tested, it's likely a factor that could also mean we're not collecting enough information about the virus. Fernando RajeevMD, infectious disease expert and fellow at Harvard Medical Schoolis concerned that we'We are no longer collecting accurate data on infections to fully understand the extent of a sudden increase and to detect mutations in the infection pattern that could lead to new treatments and updated vaccinations.

There'“There has been a significant decline in biosurveillance worldwide,” he said. Previously, countries reported new variants to the World Health Organization, and now'They just don’t see it.”

But Fernando notes that the CDC in the US has National Wastewater Monitoring System The institute monitors the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in wastewater. These numbers are currently in line with the increases we are seeing in hospitals.

Nonetheless'It is important to look at the data on the recent surge in context, he said. While the CDC is reporting an increase, this compares to a historic low in infections. In January 2022, for example, there were almost 146,000 hospital stays, compared to the current figures of about 6,500.

“That's a high percentage increase in a really small variety of COVID cases,” Fernando said. The severity of the disease is likely much lower because about 95% of Americans have some level of immunity, either through vaccination or infection, he said.

Other experts worry that those who do not get tested will delay treatment, which could affect care. Many COVID treatments considered the most effective, including Paxlovid and metformin must be administered within the first week of infection. Paxlovid is an antiviral pill that has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by 89% in high-risk patients, and Metformin has been shown to reduce the risk of acute Long COVID infection by 41%. For those who do not'If people do not know they have COVID, symptoms can worsen significantly before they seek treatment.

It'It is silly of the insurance firms to not cover the prices of the tests, because ultimately they might be paying for a lot of more days in intensive care,” said Grace McComsey, MDwho leads the long-term COVID RECOVER study on the University Hospitals Health System in Cleveland.

For those that don’t get tested or treated, a light infection can still result in Long COVID, which McComsey says poses a far greater threat to many patients than an acute infection. According to the CDC 7.5% of Americans They have already got long-term symptoms of COVID disease, including severe fatigue, chronic pain, shortness of breath and chest pain that persist for 3 or more months after initial infection.

Both at home and all over the world, and despite the added cost, it continues to be necessary to get tested, Silcox said. Those who cannot afford a test at home should still find free testing at a community health facility, health department, library or other local organizations. You may buy tests prematurely before you get sick; with coupons from the pharmacy; or you may buy them online or in bulk for a less expensive price. The CDC also has a Free COVID Test Locator on its website.

“If you have them in the house before you get sick, you are not dependent on retail prices,” Silcox said.

And for those who don't get tested, you’ll want to quarantine for those who experience symptoms, and take into accout that at-home tests aren't perfect. “You can be infected for a day or two before the result comes back positive,” Silcox said. So for those who're around older or immunocompromised people, don't underestimate the ability of a high quality mask — they're cheaper and so they save lives.