SACRAMENTO — California has become the first state to require health insurance plans to cover at-home tests for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, chlamydia and syphilis — which could help quell the STI epidemic that has raged nearly unchecked as public health departments have focused on COVID-19.
The rule, part of a broader law addressing the STI epidemic, took effect Jan. 1 for people with state-regulated private insurance plans and will kick in sometime later for the millions of low-income Californians enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program.
By making it easier and cheaper for Californians to self-administer tests in the privacy of their homes, the provision could bring better disease monitoring to rural and underserved parts of the state, reduce the stigma patients experience when seeking care and give them more control over their health, say experts on infectious diseases.
“This is the first law of its kind, and I’d say it’s kind of cutting-edge,” said Stephanie Arnold Pang, senior director of policy and government relations for the National Coalition of STD Directors. “We want to bring down every single barrier for someone to get STI testing, and out-of-pocket cost is a huge factor.”
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