Administrative burden is all of the little frictions of filling out paperwork, cross-referencing qualifying criteria and putting the right stamp on the right part of the envelope in the right direction and then signing your name in the correct color ink. Administrative burden is often used as a means of reducing public program take-up without actually “cutting” people out. Instead of cutting people, eligibility criteria is rechecked every week/month/quarter so if someone has a good month at work, they lose the benefit even if they would be eligible over the course of the entire year. The voting wars are effectively wars on administrative burden. Is it easy to vote or hard to vote? If it is hard to vote, some people will explicitly decide to not pay the price to vote and other people will attempt to navigate the needless complex bureaucracy and fail somewhere along the way.
The current proposal to require insurers to pay for COVID testing on a reimbursement basis is heavily laden with administrative sludge. The people who can navigate that burden are likely able to already have resources and motivation to get tested. It is likely mostly a transfer without too much clinical impact. We need routine, regular, reliable testing to create externalities. An individual who is testing is testing to gain information that will change their behavior after they are pre-symptomatically infected. An individual who is getting tested won’t change their disease course (all that much, some of the anti-virals have a narrow window of efficacy) but they can change their behavior to minimize the probability that they are infecting other people.
Jen Psaki somewhat mockingly asks reporter at the White House Daily Press Briefing if the US should be sending out rapid #COVID19 tests to every household.
— Matt Karolian (@mkarolian) December 6, 2021
So yeah, everyone should be getting test kits for free, every week in the mail. And sure, there will be waste, there will be abuse, there will be an active secondary market of kits being sold and an Etsy market using these kits to make anti-vax art, but the kits are cheap enough that even partial efficacy in breaking chains of transmission is still massively cost-effective. We’re relying on testing to generate externalities so we need to make the cost of testing as low as possible in both cash and hassle.