According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of reported sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) reached an all-time high for the sixth year in a row in 2019 [1]. To address rising STD rates, California governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 306, known as the STD Coverage and Care Act, on October 4, 2021.

This comprehensive approach to expanding STD testing and treatment will aid in combating increasing STD rates and achieving greater health equity in California. This article will explore the implications of Senate Bill 306 for health plans and how this approach to making STD testing more accessible will improve public health outcomes and related consequences.


What this means for health plans


Sections 3 and 7 of Senate Bill 306 will require health plans to cover at-home tests for HIV and STDs, including the laboratory processing costs. To be covered, STD at-home tests must be deemed medically necessary or appropriate. Additionally, people must order their at-home tests from a health care provider or have a standing order for patient use based on their individual health needs or clinical guidelines.

The provision of this bill will strengthen California’s public health infrastructure and take a step towards a more equitable health care system. Before the introduction of Senate Bill 306, coverage restrictions limited access to at-home STD tests. The recent expansion of coverage to STD care will open up medical accessibility to the communities that need it the most.

This benefit coverage applies to Californians enrolled in plans or policies regulated by the California Department of Managed Care (DMHC) or the California Department of Insurance (CDI), including Medi-Cal beneficiaries enrolled in DMHC-regulated plans [2]. By expanding the definition of a crime, this bill imposes a state-mandated local program that requires the state’s reimbursement of costs.


The importance of STD testing


The CDC estimates that about one in five Americans has an STD [3]. STD testing is crucial since early diagnosis and treatment can prevent people from experiencing painful or even life-changing complications. When left undetected and untreated, STDs can result in serious health problems with adverse effects on men, women, and maternal-child health. Signs and symptoms of an STD are not always apparent. Prompt and accurate STD testing can ensure that people receive a proper diagnosis and the appropriate treatment while preventing the potential spread to others.

While the CDC reported a brief decline in reported STD cases during March-April 2020, this decrease can be attributed to reduced STD screenings, limited resources, and stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic [4]. As public health experts warn of an imminent post-pandemic rise in STDs, it is now more important than ever for people to have access to convenient and affordable STD testing [5].


How LetsGetChecked can help


The pandemic and subsequent reductions in testing and testing supply shortages have exacerbated rising STD rates. Fortunately, LetsGetChecked offers a range of safe and effective STD tests that people can use from the comfort of their own homes. Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, Gardnerella, Mycoplasma, and Ureaplasma tests are available to help people receive prompt and accurate diagnoses.

We can also provide treatments aligned with clinical guidelines in the case of a positive result for certain STDs. There is no need for a trip to the clinic or drugstore as our clinical team will deliver the appropriate medication quickly and discreetly.

LetsGetChecked is HITRUST and SOC-2 compliant, meaning that we have the necessary privacy and security programs in place to protect sensitive data and information. Additionally, our clinical labs are CLIA-certified and CAP accredited. With laboratory locations in California and the highest levels of accreditation, we can provide fast and accurate test results.

LetsGetChecked has partnered with some of the largest global health plans to close gaps that make accessing quality healthcare difficult. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions.


References


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0413-stds.html
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/352864285_California_Health_Benefits_Review_Program_Analysis_of_California_Senate_Bill_306_Health_Care_STD_Testing
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0125-sexualy-transmitted-infection.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2021/2020-std-trend-report.html
  5. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/sexual-health/post-pandemic-rise-sexually-transmitted-diseases-imminent-experts-warn-n1271996