Menlo Continues Free COVID-19 Testing Program

January 3, 2023


Michele Hratko

Menlo continues to offer free COVID tests. Staff illustration: Michele Hratko

Weekly COVID-19 testing remains an option for Menlo students and faculty, despite requirements being lifted. To do this, Menlo utilizes a service called Inspire Diagnostics, which provides both rapid antigen and PCR COVID tests. According to Head of School Than Healy, around 1,400 PCR and rapid antigen tests have been administered this year. 

These tests come at no cost to the school, thanks to a contract with Inspire Diagnostics. “It’s in our contract that Menlo will not pay for the testing, nor are families to get charged for the testing of their children and our employees who get tested, are not to be charged either,” Chief Financial Officer Bill Silver said.

The contract involves billing each student or faculty’s insurance company rather than the school or the individual.“Our contract with [Inspire] is that they collect your insurance information when you register with them […] And then they bill the insurance company,” Silver said. 

Because the Cares Act, passed by Congress on Mar. 25, 2020, requires all private, Medicare and Medi-Caid plans to cover COVID testing for their members, there is no out-of-pocket cost to those registered for COVID testing with their insurance provider. Instead, according to their website, Inspire simply accepts a reimbursed amount for the COVID tests from the insurance companies.

Free COVID tests have also partially been thanks to California’s funds for COVID as a national emergency, as they cover the difference for when insurance companies don’t pay. “This has been workable to date because of the government’s view of COVID as a nationwide and statewide emergency. Generally the insurance companies continue to pay for testing and, if they don’t, there have been government funds available and the testing services have taken advantage of that,” Silver said.

Although Silver has had some concerns about students or faculty without insurance, there have been no issues thus far. “We’re of course concerned that […] [if] somebody doesn’t have insurance or if the insurance company just decides that they don’t want to pay for testing anymore,” Silver said. “That has not been a problem today so far as we have not been billed anything nor are we aware of families or employees being billed.”

According to Healy, Menlo will continue to provide COVID tests in the future “as long as there remains a need […] and insurance companies are paying for the testing.” Additionally, although Menlo has previously only provided vaccine services for faculty, they may continue providing vaccines for students into the future. “We haven’t made [the] decision [to keep offering vaccines] yet but if it helps families and the overall health of the school we are supportive of that,” Healy said.

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Andrea Li, Print Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 4

Favorite aspect of journalism: Working with other people on staff :)

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Michele Hratko, Staff Illustrator
Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 1

Interests outside of school: dance classes, painting, spending time with friends.

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