Healthcare

Senate Democrats call for investigation into reported price gouging for COVID-19 tests

Stefani Reynolds

Two Democratic senators are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate reports of price-gouging of at-home COVID-19 tests.  

“As media reports continue to reveal price gouging and scams related to at-home test kits, we strongly urge the FTC to act as necessary and use its full authority to investigate the situation and hold bad actors accountable without delay,” write Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “No one should be allowed to reap a windfall and fraudulently exploit fear and human suffering.” 

The letter comes amid broader concerns about the price and availability of at-home rapid tests, a key tool in fighting the pandemic.  

Experts have long lamented that a pack of two tests can cost more than $20 in the U.S., while rapid tests are often free or a few dollars in Europe.  

Markey also wrote to leading manufacturers and retailers of COVID-19 tests, calling on them to lower their prices. He said a test can cost as little as $2 to make, but often sells for $12 or more.

He also raised concerns that retailers are marking up the cost of the tests and called for them to be sold at cost.  

“The cost of at-home testing kits can pose a significant barrier to access,” Markey wrote. “As we face an unprecedented wave of COVID cases, manufacturers and retailers must do more to ensure consumers see reasonable prices for these tests.” 

Starting last Saturday, the Biden administration has required that insurers cover the cost of eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month. But the process can be cumbersome given that many people need to pay up front and then submit their receipts to their insurer for reimbursement.  

A new government website, covidtests.gov, allows people to order tests for free to be shipped to their home, but tests are limited to four per residence.  

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic coronavirus test Coronavirus testing COVID-19 COVID-19 test COVID-19 testing Ed Markey Lina Khan

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