COVID-19 test pricing disparities require significant change


Graphic by Gabriella Gerig ’23

The demand for COVID tests increases as cases continue to rise throughout the country. However, not everyone is ensured free testing, which discourages many people from taking action to get them.

Gabriella Gerig ’23, Staff Writer

As COVID-19 cases reach new heights across the country, the demand for testing continues to grow at an exponential rate. Unfortunately, a vast disparity exists within test pricing.

According to Money Magazine, people are still being charged for COVID tests despite federal action such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The confusion and numerous inconsistencies surrounding whether or not a COVID test will actually be covered is a disincentive to many who are concerned about the expense.

In addition, based on a Petterson – Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, the cost of a test from large nationwide facilities can range anywhere between $20 to $850. Private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid are now required to cover COVID-19 tests without any cost to the individual under federal law. However, no-cost tests are not guaranteed to the uninsured. The price understandably discourages testing for those people who do not have insurance, which tends to include lower income communities.

Due to this recent steady, unwavering surge, testing has become an even more fundamental aspect in containing the spread. Although the new vaccine is slowly rolling out in the states, tests remain an important tool in controlling the pandemic. COVID testing prevents mass infection by keeping people informed of their safety and health. It also provides the information necessary to quickly contact trace. The tests determine if someone needs to self-isolate in order to avoid exposing more people to the virus.

Although it will be difficult to follow through with free testing for all, it is imperative during these unprecedented times. Allocation of federal, state and local municipal funds to COVID testing facilities is necessary. A stronger federal regulation on prices would assist many people who are not able to afford the cost. If test pricing remains unaffordable for so many, progress made to combat the virus will undoubtedly slow down.

As every person continues to struggle with the uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19, testing has become a basic human necessity and needs to be treated as one.