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Pros and cons of at-home COVID tests

Starting Jan. 15 insurance companies are required to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests
Starting Jan. 15 insurance companies are required to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests(kauz)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 11:13 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Starting Jan. 15, insurance companies are required to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests as a part of President Biden’s administrative plan to increase access to free tests.

At-home COVID-19 testing provides the convenience of taking a test in the safety of your own home and not having to wait days to receive results. However, health experts say they do have their pros and cons.

“It gives you the ability to test when you become ill and you don’t have access to a doctor’s office or a testing site, especially during the weekend. If it’s positive, then you’ll know that you need to quarantine,” said Lou Kreidler, health director of the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District.

The over-the-counter home antigen test also lets those who test positive warn others who may have been exposed that they need to quarantine as well, days before symptoms begin.

Giving families the option to take the COVID test at home is meant to decrease the strain on testing sites and health departments.

“They have a high positivity rate, so if you take that test and you test positive then you indeed are positive for COVID. The downfalls with those is that they also have a false negative rate, so if someone is symptomatic they need to follow that up with PCR testing,” said Kreidler.

Across the country, some have seen a shortage of COVID-19 tests being available in stores.

“I tried to go get tested and it takes a long time, especially right now with Omicron, so it took me like two tries. I looked at like six CVSs and I tried Walmart and they didn’t have any. I’d prefer that they are sent home and you can get an idea of whether or not you’re positive, it’s better to have something than nothing,” said Mirna Estrada.

Depending on the manufacturer, each COVID-19 test comes with a different set of instructions, but health experts say they are fairly simple to read.

“For some of them, they will read out like a pregnancy test, so they’ll have a control line and then a line that turns colors if you’re positive, but each test has a different methodology,” said Kreidler.

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