Rapid at-home tests bring questions for the community

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(ABC 6 News) – With hospitals and testing centers overwhelmed, state and federal officials now recommend rapid at-home test kits. While these kits may be helpful for detection of the virus, not every at-home test gets reported to the Minnesota Department of Health — meaning the reported case numbers are not totally accurate.

However, the department of health said they were never 100 percent correct due to asymptomatic cases and people who chose not to get tested. They report case numbers anyway, for a bigger picture of COVID-19 in Minnesota.

"The reason is that we do not have a good way to verify the results," MDH said in a statement. "We appreciate that people want to report their results to us to help us monitor COVID-19, but we can’t be certain of what’s being “called in” and the standard case definition for COVID cases includes laboratory confirmation."

State health officials do recommend getting an additional PCR for those that test positive using the at-home tests.

"Those who test positive should consider the results as true positives and isolate or quarantine accordingly," MDH said. "Getting a lab-confirmed PCR test recorded by the state is a good option."

Starting Saturday private health insurers will have to cover up to eight of these at-home tests per-person every month. The Biden administration announced the change — saying its looking to lower costs and make testing easier. Local pharmacies are seeing an increase in demand for the tests with 30 to 50 calls a day from people asking if they’re in stock. Pharmacists believe requiring insurers to cover tests will slow down the process when customers come in to buy them.

"I think it’s definitely gonna put some hiccups in the day-to-day operations," said Philip Hommerding, pharmacist and store owner at Hunt’s Drug. "Pharmacies, you know, if you have to enter a prescription and bill insurance and go through that whole process, you’re going to have a 15-30 minute wait to try to get an at home test."

People can either purchase tests for free under insurance, or submit receipts for the tests for reimbursement.