PCR testing systems Abbott vs. Cepheid

How is the reimbursement for the COVID test minus the cost?

BCBS does not cover your rapid flu and strep with the ID?

Are these tests CLIA waived to use in office?

It didn’t cover our molecular flu and strep. Neither did 1199.

I was just getting ready to post about this and saw there was already a thread! We are thinking of using our HHS grant funds for the Abbott test kits as they are much more expensive than the rapid antigen tests, but from what I can gather, they are also much more accurate.

I am concerned about the issues I read above about insurance reimbursement. Our major carriers are the following:
Independence Blue Cross (subsidiary of BCBS only available in Philadelphia 5 county area)
United Healthcare

I have the CPT codes and have checked the fee schedules but there are so many different BCBS plans that I’m assuming that coverage may vary across the board.

My question is, do you only bill for the test or do you bill for the analyzer also? When we used the BD Veritor in the past the doctors didn’t love it and the reimbursement for the reader was all over the place.

Any help from experienced offices would be appreciated!

You cannot bill for the reader. BD cooked up this (Sofia Quidel said you cannot) and we billed and the $ were recouped by the insurance cos.

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We decided last week to get the Abbott ID NOW. They said we should get it in September. I will post after we start using it.

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Do you need anything other than your regular CLIA Waiver for the Abbott ID Now testing? Do you use it for strep, flu, mono & RSV?

Hello Jennifer,

The tests are CLIA waived. We use the machines for strep, RSV and influenza.


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We just received our 5 Abbott ID Now machines today, but no COVID test cartridges yet. Does anyone have the cartridges in their office?

We hear yesterday that they are coming in October. We have had 4 machines for a month already.
Laura Laskonis
All Star Pediatrics

I have 10 boxes of tests I am returning.

Why are you returning?

I prefer using Sofia. I have some ID NOW tests as backup. I cancelled my order of ID NOW, but they still sent it to me.

Mr. S. Ramchandra
Bay Colony Pediatrics
2251 Fm 646 Rd West, Ste 155
Dickinson, Texas 77539

Hello! Could we reawaken the question raised by Dr. Baumel about the experience with and the merits of point of care tests for SARS-CoV-2. We are deciding between the Abbott ID Now and the Cepheid Xpert Xpress. Cepheid offers the option of doing Chlamydia testing in the office as well. In our area the hospitals are short of reagents for the chlamydia testing, it has been difficult to get our patients tested.

Thanks Wanessa. I will let you know how it works once we get our COVID testing cartriges.

We also were deciding between Abbott and Cepheid and decided against Abbott- concerned about high false neg rates(10%) and the need to confirm neg tests with PCR test. This could mean swabbing a single patient multiple times- if the Abbott COVID test is neg then the patient would need a second swab to be sent out for the PCR test. Throw in the need for a possible throat swab too. Neither parents nor the patients would be happy about that. Now we are looking @ Cepheid- their 4 in 1 RSV/FluA/FluV/COVID test all run off one swab is attractive. But reagent availability and time to run the test(45 min) are issues.

Peggy, I think we are likely talking about a different Abbott test. Abbott has 6 COVID tests. 3 are molecular tests, one is an antibody test and 2 are antigen tests. The test that I have purchased and that we were discussing in this thread is the Abbott ID Now test. This is one of their 3 molecular tests. It is designed to be a point-of-care test to run in primary care offices and is a NAAT molecular test that looks for and identifies viral RNA and amplifies it. It is supposed to identify a positive in as quick as 5 min and runs for 13 min. As it is a molecular test it is in the same accuracy range as the Cepheid molecular test.

I think that the test you are referring to which would require a confirmatory PCR test is the Abbott BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Card. This is an antigen test that is designed to be done by the consumer with a self nasal swab and takes 15 min. In early Sept it was reported that the federal government was buying a lot of these to send to school to help with school reopening.

I was recently on a webinar with experts from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and they shared this graph for the different POC testing platforms. Thought I’d share the info here.