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Here's why workers who opt for COVID tests over vaccines might have to foot the bill

Under federal law, insurance companies have to cover the cost of COVID tests ordered by a medical provider. But workplace testing is exempt

TAMPA, Fla — In order to comply with Florida’s vaccine mandate rules, many employers are considering an option for workers to submit weekly Covid test results, the expense, of which, can add up quickly.

So, who picks up the bill?

Healthcare experts say it’s going to be a problem.

Under federal law, insurance companies have to cover the cost of Covid tests ordered by a medical provider.

But workplace testing is exempt.

"You know, it’s one of these crazy situations where we have a lot of people who are going to be required to get a test to get back to work," said Sabrina Corlette with the Center on Health Insurance Reforms. "But there’s no requirement that their employer plan pays for it."

Corlette says right now it’s up to the employer to decide who pays, meaning it could be the employee.

And at $50-$100 per test? - that can add up fast.

"It’s trying to kind of force people’s hands. Right?" USF Health’s Dr. Jill Roberts said. "What you want to do is make it so onerous to not be vaccinated that people will be forced to be vaccinated. We reached this point."

“You know, I think the point of getting tested every week, which probably is not as effective as getting vaccinated, is to make it uncomfortable,” USF Health’s Dr. Michael Feng added.

There’s also a question about the medical benefit of weekly testing. Some research suggests it needs to be more often than that.

"In order to have and effectiveness in decreasing Covid transmission as good as the vaccine you’d have to get tested every three days," Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Physician Dr. Juan Dumois said.

"But they will pick up some positives," Dr. Roberts said. "It will screen out some cases and keep some people off of this."

There are other options.

Most counties still have sites open where you can get a free Covid test. It’s less expensive, although perhaps not as convenient as your local drug store.

Results can also take up to 48 hours.