Walmart, Kroger Raise Prices of At-Home COVID Tests
Two major retailers have raised the cost of a popular at-home COVID-19 test after an agreement with the White House to keep them at a fixed price lapsed, multiple news outlets reported Wednesday. Kroger and Walmart had sold the BinaxNOW test kit, manufactured by the company Abbott, at $14, per the agreement with President Joe Biden's administration, which said that the two-test box would be sold "at cost" for three months starting in September 2021 at Kroger, Walmart and Amazon.com.
Since the agreement expired in mid-December, Walmart has raised the price of the antigen test to $19.88, and Kroger has raised it to $23.99. The product was listed as out of stock on both companies' websites Wednesday. Amazon didn't have the test listed for sale online Wednesday.
“We fulfilled our commitment to the Biden Administration to sell at cost for 100 days. That pricing program has now phased out and retail pricing has been reinstated,” Kroger said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Total Retail's Take: This news comes as Americans are experiencing the largest COVID-19 surge to date with the emergence of the Omicron variant amid holiday gatherings. At-home tests have been hard to come by, with multiple stores struggling to keep them in stock, and some stores limiting the number of tests customers can purchase.
During a White House press briefing Tuesday, Press Sec. Jen Psaki said the administration's goal is to "increase and scale up access to free tests." She said starting next week, Americans with health insurance will be able to get reimbursed for the BinaxNOW kits.
Additionally, Biden said in late December that people would be able to ask the government to mail free COVID-19 tests to their homes starting in January.