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Uninsured Utahns Now Eligible For Free COVID-19 Tests

CDC laboratory test kit for the novel coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control

The state’s Department of Health announced Monday that many uninsured Utahns will now be able to get free COVID-19 tests. Antibody tests are also included in the coverage and Utahns can apply for the program online.

“It’s a very simple application. We’re only looking for three things,” said Kolbi Young, a spokesperson for the Department of Health’s Medicaid program. “We’re wanting to know that the person is uninsured that they’re a citizen and that they live in Utah.”

Young said that applicants will find out in 2 to 3 days if they are approved. Once they apply, they will automatically be considered for health coverage under Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“So, not just the testing, but then they would be able to be treated and have that treatment covered by Medicaid or CHIP,” said Young.

Stacy Stanford, health policy analyst at Utah Health Policy Project, has advocated for free testing, among other policies, since the pandemic started.

“It’s something we’ve kind of been anxiously waiting for. So, we’re really happy to see that it was finally approved and in place,” said Stanford.

Not everyone who is eligible for the free testing program is eligible for Medicaid, some may make too much money to qualify.

“There are still people that are going to fall through the cracks,” said Stanford.  

Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for free testing under the state’s program, but community health centers provide the service, said Stanford. Overall, she said, it’s a step in the right direction.  

“The more testing we can do, the more we get a handle on what’s happening in the pandemic --where it is, how we track it, how we can contain it. It’s really impossible to do a re-opening strategy without an intensive testing strategy,” said Stanford.

The Department of Health is encouraging uninsured folks to go out and get tested right away, even if they haven’t done the paperwork yet, because they can be reimbursed for the cost.