Walmart and Kroger raise prices of COVID tests after federal agreement to sell them “at original price” expires

Walmart and Kroger are raising the price of at-home COVID-19 tests following the expiration of a temporary agreement with the White House to sell the kits “at full price.” Meanwhile, the Biden administration said on Monday, private insurers would be required to cover the cost of up to eight rapid at-home coronavirus tests per person per month.

The low-cost deal, first established in September, officially ended last month, allowing major retailers, including Amazon, to set their own prices. Initial tests cost $24 with Amazon and $14 with Walmart and Kroger. But on Tuesday, report NBC News, the BinaxNOW test kit – one of the first approved rapid at-home antigen tests – costs $19.88. Kroger’s, meanwhile, is listed at $23.99.

Based on The Wall Street Journal, pharmacy chains such as CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots-Alliance Inc. sold the tests for $23.99.

A Kroger spokesperson says the company is “completed [its] committed to the Biden administration to sell “tests” at original price for 100 days. “

The White House’s expiration of the agreement comes amid an unprecedented increase in US coronavirus cases stemming from the recent emergence of the omicron variant, which was first identified in the US on December 1. Last week, the US saw a record number of new COVID cases in a single day. , a total of one million, according to John Hopkins University. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that nearly 120,000 Americans are currently hospitalized due to the virus.

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On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki dodged a question around whether the expired deal could be reinstated.

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“I won’t go into the details of our private conversations with these vendors,” said Psaki. “Our focus, of course, is on making sure we’re increasing the accessibility and accessibility of free tests for people across the country.”

Beyond the pricing, however, millions of Americans continue to struggle to find trials to begin with. Last week, test seller told NBC News that it is facing a “demand tsunami” as cases continue to soar.

Abbott, the maker of BinaxNOW kits, repeated that the company is calculating the same with “unprecedented demand”.

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Company spokesman John Koval said: “We will ship them as quickly as possible. “This includes running our US manufacturing facilities 24/7, hiring more workers, and investing in automation.”

The White House has said that it plans to send 500 million free COVID home tests to Americans through the Postal Service and has reported finishing contracts for their production. “We are actively finalizing the details of the delivery mechanism, including a website like we talked about,” deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday.

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Journal that if prices rose too high, Americans would discourage people from using them.

“When the price is this high, people will rationalize not using a kit. They’ll wait until they’re sick or need it for school or something,” he said. “The problem with these pricing, besides creating a lack of access, is that it creates an incentive to harm people not to use them.” Walmart and Kroger raise prices of COVID tests after federal agreement to sell them “at original price” expires

Huynh Nguyen

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