Free At-Home COVID-19 (Antigen) Test Kits
On the new federal government website, some Americans will be able to order free coronavirus tests a day early.
While COVIDTests.gov was set to begin accepting orders on Wednesday, a button to “Order free at-home tests” was added to usps.com/covidtests on Tuesday, allowing users to order four at-home free tests.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday that the site is still in beta mode, which allows for troubleshooting.
“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two,” Psaki said, “but the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success.”
“COVID-19 tests will begin shipping in late January,” a message on the site told 49ULTRA. According to the website, the USPS will only send one set of four free at-home coronavirus tests to valid residential addresses.
Another message was posted on the website Tuesday that noted the site is “up and running early so we can test the site before our official launch tomorrow. We have tests for every residential address in the U.S. Please check back tomorrow if you run into any unexpected issues.”
Tips to find at-home COVID tests
If you’re looking for an at-home test right now, it might seem impossible.
In the face of ongoing shortages, however, with some tools, determination, and luck, testing kits can be found in stores and online.
Some people are employing the same strategies as those used to score the hard-to-find PS5 and Xbox Series X video game consoles: Following Twitter and social media accounts that send out notifications when the tests are available again.
Consumers can also be notified when new tests are available via apps and websites.
After seeing how difficult it was to find at-home tests, Eli Coustan, a 14-year-old from the Evanston suburb of Chicago, launched his website Findacovidtest.org at the end of December.
“I started ILVaccine.org in February 2021 after seeing how difficult it was for my grandparents to get appointments,” Eli told USA TODAY. “I had created a site to find vaccines earlier in the pandemic and knew that I would be able to use a lot of similar technology to create something to find at-home tests you can order online and have shipped.”
Your results may vary, but here are some pointers to help you locate at-home coronavirus tests and other limited-supply items.
USPS COVID test kits
According to some tweets, orders placed by different people living in the same apartment building but in different units were rejected as duplicates. Each address in the United States is supposed to be able to order up to four kits. Tests are supposed to arrive in seven to twelve days after they’ve been ordered.
According to Twitter users, one workaround is to enter your apartment number in the street address field.
There is no need for a credit card to order the free tests, and there is no cost, unlike the insurance reimbursement program, which began Saturday and requires many people to submit receipts in order to receive free tests.
The tests are part of a 500 million test order placed by the Biden administration last month to help combat an unprecedented rise in infections.
Free COVID test website drives online government traffic
According to analytics.usa.gov, the early launch of the test ordering website accounted for more than half of all government website visits on Tuesday.
COVIDtests.gov had nearly 9 million pageviews in the last seven days as of 3 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to the analytics website.
Insurance now covers at-home COVID testing kits. How to get free tests or reimbursement
A new requirement allows Americans with health insurance to receive up to eight free at-home coronavirus tests.
Private health plans must cover the over-the-counter tests for up to $12 per test starting Saturday. Consumers can either buy the testing kits for free or submit receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement.
Under the plan, a family of five could be reimbursed for up to 40 tests per month. PCR tests and rapid tests ordered or administered by a health care provider will continue to be fully covered by insurance.
The federal requirement for insurance companies was announced by President Joe Biden in December, and officials said Monday that it would begin on January 15.
“This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Monday. “By requiring private health plans to cover people’s at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans’ ability to get tests for free when they need them.”
The administration is attempting to persuade private insurers to pay for the tests up front, without having to go through a lengthy reimbursement process.
Insurers will comply with the administration’s order, according to industry groups, but consumers should be aware that it will not be as simple as flipping a switch.
“They do not need to submit a separate claim for reimbursement,” HCSC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told USA TODAY, if a member uses a pharmacy in its pharmacy benefit manager’s network, Prime.
Aetna added new frequently asked questions about the new requirement to its website on Friday. More information on how members can submit claims will be available soon, according to the website.
How do I get a free at-home COVID test with insurance?
Starting Jan. 15, according to the government’s frequently asked questions, “most people with a health plan can go online, or to a pharmacy or store to purchase an at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at no cost, either through reimbursement or free of charge through their insurance.”
How much is the COVID home test reimbursement?
Insurance companies must reimburse up to $12 per individual test, or the test’s cost if it is less than $12. If the test costs more than $12 per test, the customer will be responsible for the difference.
Can I get reimbursed for past COVID test purchases?
No, most likely. According to the government FAQ, plans and issuers are not required by federal law to “provide such coverage for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests purchased before January 15,” and consumers should contact their health plans to inquire about reimbursement for previous test purchases. Some states have already made it a requirement to cover the at-home tests.
What about COVID tests at testing sites? Will they stay open?
Based on previous legislation passed by Congress to address the pandemic, insurers are required to pay for coronavirus tests administered at testing sites and medical offices, which can cost $100 or more. Home tests are less expensive and can be purchased without a prescription at retail stores or online.
How long will it take to receive test reimbursements?
“Health plans are encouraged to provide prompt reimbursement for claims for at-home tests, and consumers can find out directly from their plan how their claims process works and ask questions about reimbursement timing,” the government FAQ page said.
Will Medicare pay for home COVID tests?
At-home tests will not be covered by Medicare, but some Medicare Advantage Plans may cover and pay for over-the-counter coronavirus tests. According to the Medicare website, you should check with your Advantage Plan to see if the tests are covered and paid for.
Will Medicaid and other government plans cover the tests?
State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program programs are required to cover FDA-approved at-home coronavirus tests as part of the American Rescue Plan. According to the federal government, coverage rules may differ by state.
Can the uninsured get free tests?
Those who do not have access to a covered insurance plan will be able to get free tests through the federal website, as well as some local community centers and pharmacies.
How can I order free COVID tests from the government?
“Every home in the U.S. can soon order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests will be completely free – there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number,” according to a message on the government website.
What is the website to order free COVID tests?
The website for ordering free Gov. COVID tests is Covidtests.gov.