How to get a free at-home Covid-19 test starting this weekend

Two years into the coronavirus pandemic, people are still struggling to find and access a COVID-19 test in relatively short order when they need one. Accordingly, some businesses (like Google) have resorted to just getting their hands on tests themselves and making them available to employees — as well as customers (like Southwest Airlines). This balkanization of the rapid Covid testing landscape isn’t, however, a sustainable solution. Especially with the Omicron variant spreading so swiftly. And Biden officials now telling people that most of us will be exposed to this virus, one way or another.

All that said, the White House detailed a plan this week to reverse the nation’s unacceptable Covid testing status quo. A plan that includes buying half a billion at-home, rapid tests to distribute for free to Americans starting this month. There will also be a website where people can request at-home tests for free home delivery.

Free Covid-19 tests

COVID-19 Testing Update: Today, our administration announced that beginning January 15, 2022, individuals covered by a health insurance plan who purchase an FDA-approved, over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test will be able to have those tests covered by their insurance.

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 10, 2022

Two years into the pandemic would seem to raise the obvious question about why this hasn’t happened until now. But better late than never, presumably.

The White House plan also includes the provision of 50 million free, at-home self-tests to community health centers and rural clinics. As well as the establishment of surge testing sites and more than 20,000 free community-based pharmacy testing sites.

The linchpin of the announcement is that COVID-19 test kits will be free/reimbursable starting this weekend. January 15 is when insurers must start footing the bill for them. The White House plan specifically calls for insurers to reimburse the cost of up to eight at-home tests for each covered individual every month.

Naturally, Amazon is one popular source people have been turning to in the interim for these rapid home tests. And not only does Amazon have COVID-19 at-home test kits in stock at the moment. Several best-sellers are also discounted as of the time of this writing. Check our listings of some recent deals found on Amazon here.

How to get a free at-home Covid-19 test

Call your health insurance company
You want to find out from your health insurance company if they support free tests at the pharmacy or require a reimbursement.

Locate a store with in-stock rapid tests near you
Find a store close to you that has a rapid test in stock, covered for free.

What if I don’t have insurance?
Tests are available at some participating CVS and Walgreens locations. Tests are also available for purchase from Amazon.

What if I already bought and paid for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests?
According to the federal government, “plans and insurers are required to cover at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests purchased on or after January 15, 2022. Plans or issuers may, but are not required by federal law to, provide such coverage for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests purchased before January 15. Contact your health plan to inquire about getting reimbursed for tests purchased before January 15, 2022.”

Instant Covid testing near me

A patient is tested in his vehicle in a drive-through coronavirus COVID-19 testing location. Image source: daniilvolkov/Adobe

Per the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, consumers can visit stores online or in-person. “The Biden-Harris Administration is also strongly incentivizing health plans and insurers to set up a network of convenient options across the country like pharmacies or retailers, including online retailers, where people can get COVID-19 tests for free at the point of sale, rather than having to submit claims for reimbursement.

“Consumers can find out from their plan or insurer if it is providing direct coverage of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests through such a network of preferred pharmacies or retailers.”

You can search this federal government page for Covid testing sites near you.

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