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Insurers say Saturday is too early to meet White House targets on rapid testing.

Starting Saturday, new federal rules will require private insurers to cover home coronavirus tests that Americans buy at drugstores and other stores. The new system could, in theory, allow millions of people to take tests in thousands of places without spending any money.

The reality, at least in the short term, is likely to be more complicated: Some insurers say it will likely take weeks to fully implement the system envisioned by the White House.

The new process will be difficult, insurers say, because over-the-counter coronavirus tests are different from the doctor’s visits and hospital stays they typically cover.

Tests currently do not have the type of billing codes that insurers use to process claims. Health plans rarely process retail receipts; instead, they built systems for digital claims with predefined formats and long established billing codes.

For this reason, some insurers plan to handle rapid test claims manually at the start.

“It takes things back to the old days, where you have a person who throws all these slips of paper into a shoebox, and then they end up putting them in an envelope and sending them to a health insurer to decipher them,” said This Connolly. , the chief executive of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, which represents small, not-for-profit insurers.

nytimes Gt

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