Coronavirus testing is going to be a big part of reopening the economy, and, according to a new study by Wakely Consulting Group, it won’t come cheaply.
The study, commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), found that diagnostic testing would cost between $6 billion and $25 billion a year, and antibody testing would cost between $5 billion and $19 billion a year. These estimates include both the cost of the tests as well as affiliated healthcare services (e.g., provider visit, urgent care visit) for administering the tests.
“Every American should be able to get the COVID-19 tests they need,” AHIP said in a blog post yesterday. “As businesses and the healthcare system prepare to safely reopen, leaders are looking for answers to determine what testing strategies will best protect against spread of the virus, how much these strategies may cost American taxpayers and healthcare consumers, and what investments might be necessary moving forward.”
In the study, Wakely developed a range of potential costs associated with outpatient (diagnostic and antibody) testing that may fall under medical necessary tests to diagnose or treat COVID-19, public health tests to collect and analyze data on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the population, and occupational health tests to ensure workplaces are safe.
The report notes that a great deal of uncertainty surrounds how testing strategies will be developed and deployed, so the total cost of testing will be less than the combination of the costs of diagnostic and antibody tests.
This report is a supplement to a separate analysis that Wakely conducted on estimated COVID-19 treatment costs for 2020 and 2021. That study found that costs to treat COVID-19 for 2020 and 2021 could reach over $200 billion, excluding testing costs and accounting for deferred or delayed care.