ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Big milestones in the fight against COVID-19 have been reached. 70% of New Yorkers being fully vaccinated, the closing of large-scale state-run vaccination sites like the one at SUNY Albany, and the ending of the state of emergency, all signify a return to a pre-pandemic world.
In the meantime, with the potential for variants to continue spreading, will COVID testing be available at state-run sites? Will those without insurance be able to get tested for free? Will pharmacies still offer testing at no cost?
NEWS10 went to the New York State Department of Health’s (DOH) website to find a testing site near Albany. No state-run testing sites came up in the search. Instead, a list of local pharmacies, private laboratories, and health centers turned up.
Media relations professionals for both CVS and Rite Aid said testing will continue to be available at no cost to patients.
On its website, CVS said there are more than 4,800 testing sites available in the United States. It also said there are no out-of-pocket costs for people with insurance. “We plan to continue offer COVID-19 testing, which is generally available at no-cost to patients either through their insurance coverage or under a federal program for uninsured patients,” said CVS Media Relations Representative, Tara Burke.
Director of Public Relations, Christopher Savarese, said Rite Aid will continue to offer COVID testing at its drive- thrus at no cost to those insured or uninsured, as well.
Burke and Savarese said people without insurance will continue to be able to get tested at no cost, thanks to a federal program.
Under the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, costs for COVID testing, treatment for illness and vaccination is covered in full. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said providers must agree to receive payment from the Federal Government as CVS and Rite Aid do.
WellNow has many locations throughout the Capital District. They said they will continue to offer COVID testing but they are not participating in the Federal program. Public Relations Manager, Annie Keller, said patients without insurance can expect to pay a minimum of $230.
The fee for same or next day PCR testing is $100 along with a $130 fee for the visit. Additionally, there could be other service fees, explained Keller.
Billions of dollars have been set aside to help the uninsured pay for COVID testing. As of May 19, almost $4 billion in testing reimbursements had been paid out to providers, HHS said in a May 25 press release. Another $4.8 billion is being set aside by HHS to continue reimbursing providers for COVID testing.
While cases of COVID remain low at the moment, should a variant become a concern, money will be available to help get the uninsured tested.
There are also multiple ways to obtain a reasonably priced at-home COVID test from Walmart, Rite Aid, and CVS. The DOH provides links to private laboratories like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp which also offer at-home testing at a higher cost.
NEWS10 reached out to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and the DOH to find out which, if any state testing sites would remain open but neither office responded by the time this article was published. Gov. Cuomo also did not address testing sites in his COVID update on June 24.