US hands out eight free Covid rapid tests per month while only select Aussies have access


Now even the US is handing out free Covid tests: President Biden orders insurance companies to give Americans eight rapid antigen kits a month while the poorest Australians make do with three

  • Americans will have access to free Covid tests through their insurance plans
  • Australian free tests go to low income earners, welfare recipients, pensioners
  • These people can only have access to 10 free rapid tests over a three months


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Americans will be given up to eight free rapid Covid-19 tests per month in a stark contrast to Australia’s usually more generous health system.

Only low-income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners in Australia will be provided with the free tests, with the federal government agreeing to provide up to 10 every three months and a maximum of five per month.

Close contacts will also be provided with free tests as they are required to get a swab on day six of isolation. 

US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday he was ordering health insurance companies to cover the tests to anyone on their plans.

He said the order was to lower costs and make testing for the virus more convenient amid rising cases and wait-times in testing queues.

Under the new policy starting on Saturday, Americans will be able to either buy home testing kits for free under their insurance, or submit receipts for reimbursement.

US President Joe Biden on Monday announced Americans could access free RATs in a bid to lower costs and make testing for the virus more convenient amid rising cases and wait-times in testing queues

US President Joe Biden on Monday announced Americans could access free RATs in a bid to lower costs and make testing for the virus more convenient amid rising cases and wait-times in testing queues

US President Joe Biden on Monday announced Americans could access free RATs in a bid to lower costs and make testing for the virus more convenient amid rising cases and wait-times in testing queues

A family of four, for example, could be reimbursed for up to 32 tests per month. 

The tests can be picked up from pharmacies or ordered online. 

PCR tests and rapid tests ordered or administered by a health provider will continue to be fully covered by insurance with no limit.  

About 45 per cent of the American population have private health insurance – about 150 million people – with others on public programs or uninsured.

The Biden administration is also working towards supplying free tests to Americans regardless of their health insurance coverage. 

Covid cases in the US more than tripled over the past two weeks, up from 198,326 per day to 709,850 per day.

Only low-income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners in Australia will be provided with the free tests, with the Federal Government agreeing to provide up to ten every three months and a maximum of five per month (pictured in Melbourne)

Only low-income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners in Australia will be provided with the free tests, with the Federal Government agreeing to provide up to ten every three months and a maximum of five per month (pictured in Melbourne)

Only low-income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners in Australia will be provided with the free tests, with the Federal Government agreeing to provide up to ten every three months and a maximum of five per month (pictured in Melbourne)

The US also has reached a new record for number of Americans hospitalised with Covid, with 132,646 admitted with the virus. Deaths are growing at a slower rate with 1,648 Americans dying from the virus every day.

The US also surpassed 60 million cases of the virus as of Monday morning according to Johns Hopkins University.

Scott Morrison finally agreed to provide free rapid antigen tests after weeks of pharmacies being stripped bare and Australians having to wait up to eight hours in line for a PCR test.

Some retailers were reportedly selling tests for as much as $100 each – with some splitting bulk testing kits and selling them individually for a much higher price.

However, Mr Morrison still refused to help the states buy massive orders to provide them free to every Australian, as is done in the UK.

The prime minister was widely criticised for his insistence that tests shouldn’t be free, despite handing out $89 billion in JobKeeper payments to businesses.

‘We’re at another stage of this pandemic now where we just can’t go round and make everything free. We have to live with this virus,’ he said in one interview.

‘This isn’t a medicine, it’s a test. And so there’s a difference between those two things.’ 

Meanwhile Australia's changes to who can get a free test came after weeks of pharmacies being stripped bare of RATs, with residents having to wait up to eight hours in line for a PCR test

Meanwhile Australia's changes to who can get a free test came after weeks of pharmacies being stripped bare of RATs, with residents having to wait up to eight hours in line for a PCR test

Meanwhile Australia’s changes to who can get a free test came after weeks of pharmacies being stripped bare of RATs, with residents having to wait up to eight hours in line for a PCR test

Mr Morrison also repeatedly said he wanted to protect the ability of businesses to sell rapid antigen tests for a profit through supermarkets and pharmacies.

He was accused of breaking the social contract with Australians, who endured months of lockdowns, and undermining Australia’s tradition of free healthcare through Medicare.

The US, by contrast, historically makes Americans pay for every cent of their healthcare with Medicare only available for basic care to the poorest residents.

Everyone else faces huge medical bills, often even if they have private health insurance that is usually provided by their employer. 

The Australian Government also introduced measures onto those price gouging residents wanting to get a rapid test.

Businesses found not complying with measures could be fined $66,600 or jailed for a maximum of five years. 

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