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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic has supercharged the market for at-home testing for a slew of common conditions — everything from cholesterol checks to cancer screenings.

Why it matters: At-home health tests can help Americans avoid a trip to the doctor’s office, though experts say they're not a perfect replacement.

The big picture: "Just as we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of telemedicine during COVID ... you’re also going to see how testing, home diagnosis is becoming much more important," said Nicolas Terry, a health law expert at Indiana University.

The state of play: Several companies that received emergency use authorization for take-home COVID-19 tests, including LetsGetChecked and Everlywell, have seen a surge in orders for their other tests, too.

  • Demand has doubled for about 75% of Everlywell's tests, which detect vitamin deficiencies, Lyme disease and sexually transmitted diseases. Everlywell raised $175 million in funding last week as its valuation climbed 740%.
  • LetsGetChecked's demand was up 880% from 2019. 
  • Startup Truepill plans to launch a network of labs that to process at-home tests, after raising $75 million in the fall.

What they're saying: "We live in a world today where we order something on our phone and it shows up the same hour or the next day, and consumers are demanding that in their health care experiences as well," Sid Viswanathan, Truepill's co-founder and president, tells Axios.

Yes, but: Health tests outside of a doctor's office run a higher risk of human error and, in some cases, false positives.

  • Customers may have to pay full price for the tests if their health insurance does not cover them.

The bottom line: "I would always urge caution in moving outside of the traditional health care scenario, but equally I understand that people are anxious," Terry said.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Jan 16, 2021 - Health

Majority gives Dems new health care goals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A narrow Democratic majority increases the odds that significant health care legislation could become law.

What they're saying ... The Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt listed health policies that Democrats may enact with a Senate majority:

  • Nullifying the pending GOP lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
  • Making ACA premiums more affordable.
  • Offering incentives for states to expand Medicaid.
  • Allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.
  • Eliminating cost-sharing for coronavirus treatment.

Who to watch: Most Democratic policymaking on health care will come from the administration — specifically President-elect Biden's pick to head up the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.

  • Biden has also announced a task force, led by Marcella Nunez-Smith, on racial disparities in health care — a longstanding problem that got more urgent during the pandemic. 

Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bernie Madoff, a former investor sentenced to 150 years in prison for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, died Wednesday at age 82, AP reports.

The big picture: Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to a multibillion-dollar scheme that investigators said began in the 1970s and defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries — including high-profile victims like Steven Spielberg, former New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and actor Kevin Bacon, according to CNBC.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - World

John Kerry and China's long road ahead on climate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Brian Snyder/AFP via Getty Images

Yes, special climate envoy John Kerry's really in China and no, don't look for a huge breakthrough between the world's two largest carbon-emitting nations.

Driving the news: The State Department yesterday announced Kerry's visit this week, confirming plans that began emerging Saturday.