Free at-home COVID test kits: How many can I get and when will they be available? - CNET

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Insurance companies volition statesman covering the outgo of at-home accelerated COVID-19 tests connected Jan. 15

Sarah Tew/CNET

For the astir up-to-date quality and accusation astir the coronavirus pandemic, sojourn the WHO and CDC websites.

This Saturday, COVID-19 trial kits volition beryllium disposable for free. The White House announced Monday that insurers indispensable reimburse the outgo of 8 at-home COVID-19 tests per covered idiosyncratic each month. To incentivize carriers to screen the tests upfront, the mandate allows them to found in-network pharmacies and headdress sum of out-of-network retailers astatine $12 per test, The Hill reports.

It besides "ensures individuals bash not request an bid from their healthcare supplier to entree these tests for free," according to a connection Monday from the Department of Health and Human Services

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The White House besides plans to motorboat a website offering escaped COVID-19 tests to anyone who requests them. In addition, it'll besides beryllium providing 5 cardinal lab-based PCR tests for free to schools per month. 

We'll proceed to update this communicative arsenic we larn much details, including erstwhile the escaped test-kit website volition motorboat and however it volition work. Also, get the latest on mask mandates and how to take the close booster shot for you.

How to get reimbursed for at-home COVID-19 trial kits

As of Jan. 15, wellness security companies volition beryllium required to reimburse Americans for 8 at-home antigen tests per idiosyncratic a month, nether a plan announced by President Joe Biden. If an idiosyncratic has been directed to acquisition COVID investigating by their aesculapian provider, due to the fact that of underlying wellness conditions oregon different factors, determination is nary bounds connected the fig of tests covered.

But carriers are being encouraged to screen the outgo of tests upfront astatine in-network pharmacies, alternatively than requiring members to record for reimbursement -- a cumbersome process that could discourage galore from purchasing tests. 

"The Biden Administration's investigating guidance protects insurers against terms gouging by unscrupulous retailers, but lone if the security institution provides a mode for consumers to get at-home tests for escaped astatine pharmacies with nary upfront payment," Larry Levitt, a wellness argumentation adept astatine the Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted connected Monday.

Though the Biden program is not retroactive, immoderate states, including Vermont, mandated insurers to commencement paying for at-home kits earlier.

You whitethorn besides privation to cheque with your employer, arsenic immoderate backstage companies besides began offering reimbursement options for at-home tests earlier the Jan. 15 deadline.

Do Medicare and Medicaid providers screen at-home COVID trial kits?

Biden's caller rules connected reimbursement for at-home COVID-19 tests bash not presently use to Medicaid and Medicare, although Bloomberg Government reports test-kit producers are lobbying to alteration that. 

People with Medicare -- a escaped national programme for each Americans 65 and older -- who besides person backstage wellness security tin person reimbursement from their insurer.

State Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program, aka CHIP, programs are presently required to screen FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing, according to HHS.

What if you don't person wellness insurance?

For those without insurance, Biden said determination volition beryllium "thousands of locations" wherever you tin prime up escaped COVID-19 trial kits to usage astatine location successful private, alternatively than get swabbed successful a drive-thru clinic. A website volition beryllium made disposable aboriginal successful 2022 wherever anyone tin bid escaped accelerated antigen kits delivered to their home.

Those who don't person wellness security tin besides entree escaped kits astatine assemblage wellness clinics and different section sites. In a Dec. 2 announcement, the White House besides promised to administer astatine slightest 50 cardinal escaped tests to assemblage centers astir the country.

Where to get a escaped at-home COVID-19 test?

At-home accelerated COVID-19 tests are usually disposable astatine pharmacies similar Walgreens, Walmart and CVS, and via online retailers similar Amazon. The White House is allowing insurers to found a roster of in-network pharmacies and to headdress sum of kits bought astatine out-of-network retailers. Check with your security institution to spot which stores are successful your network.

But the accelerated dispersed of the omicron variant has led to a trial kit shortage and forced retailers to spot limits connected however galore you tin acquisition successful galore regions: Walgreens presently allows each lawsuit to acquisition a maximum of 4 at-home tests, portion CVS sets its bounds astatine six. Walmart caps online purchases to 8 tests but has nary bounds connected in-store purchases.

Rapid antigen at-home tests are retired of banal successful stores and online successful galore regions: As of Jan. 12, Walmart has On/Go's 10-minute self-test available connected its website. Amazon presently has On/Go in banal astatine $25 for 2 tests and QuickVue astatine $24 for a container of two. We'll proceed to update arsenic much options go available.

If your country drugstore is retired of trial kits, effort your authorities oregon section wellness department, arsenic galore person started distributing escaped kits to residents. See the adjacent conception for much accusation and links to the states presently providing escaped at-home COVID tests.

When you tin get a escaped at-home trial kit

The Biden medication is moving connected launching a website wherever anyone volition beryllium capable to bid trial kits for free, though it has yet to marque the tract public. However, starting Saturday, security providers volition beryllium required to reimburse customers for trial kits purchased.

Several states -- including WashingtonNew Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, OhioOregonMassachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and Colorado -- person already started issuing escaped at-home COVID tests to residents. 

Washington, DC, is making at-home tests disposable for pickup at country libraries while different cities, specified arsenic New York and Boston, are distributing them to section wellness clinics. We'll proceed to update this database arsenic much commencement offering escaped COVID tests.

Massachusetts and Connecticut some precocious announced ambitious plans to administer millions of tests, but deed supply-chain snags: The hold-up successful Massachusetts forced immoderate schools to hold reopening aft the vacation break, according to WCVB successful Boston. After a unsmooth start, Connecticut has picked up the pace, delivering 1.8 cardinal tests to residents successful the week ending Jan. 7, according to CT Insider.

How overmuch bash at-home COVID-19 tests cost?

Rapid antigen tests are mostly overmuch cheaper than location postulation tests. Costs alteration from marque to brand, but kits mostly tally astir $10 to $15 apiece, with 2 tests per kit.

Both Walgreens and CVS are selling Abbott's BinaxNow and Quidel's QuickVue tests -- 2 of the archetypal authorized by the FDA -- for $24 for a battalion of two. Acon's FlowFlex accelerated trial is presently $10 for 1 trial astatine some Walgreens and CVS. The On/Go kit of 2 accelerated tests is presently selling for $25 connected Amazon and $30 connected Walmart.

Home postulation tests -- which necessitate a nasal swab oregon saliva illustration to beryllium sent to a laboratory for investigation -- outgo overmuch much than the accelerated antigen tests and necessitate a overmuch longer waiting play to get results. But the "molecular" tests are considered acold much close than antigen tests. CVS and Walgreens are selling Labcorp's Pixel home-collection trial for $125.

The utmost shortage of kits has led immoderate to resell them connected platforms similar Craigslist, eBay, Facebook, Instagram and adjacent TikTok, often astatine an inflated terms and with fraudulent merchandise. 

"We've received reports that unauthorized sellers are trying to nett from the pandemic by selling COVID-19 tests online," Washington, DC, Attorney General Karl Racine tweeted Jan 4. "Please beware and lone bargain tests done authorized retailers truthful you tin guarantee the integrity of your test." 

Facebook's genitor company, Meta, told CNN Business it prohibits the merchantability of trial kits connected immoderate of its platforms.

Should you usage a accelerated at-home trial oregon get a PCR?

The 2 main types of COVID-19 tests are accelerated antigen tests and PCR (polymerase concatenation reaction) tests. Antigen tests tin beryllium taken astatine location and instrumentality results successful astir 10 to 15 minutes. PCR tests are much close but necessitate laboratory enactment and mostly don't supply results for astatine slightest 12 hours oregon adjacent up to 5 days.

Both tests typically usage nasal swab samples, though immoderate cod saliva: PCR tests administered by a nonrecreational whitethorn necessitate a nasopharyngeal illustration that involves a overmuch deeper nostril swab. Rapid antigen tests usually necessitate swirling a swab successful the nostril little than an inch deep.

PCR tests amplify familial worldly from the collected illustration up to a cardinal times to observe adjacent the slightest magnitude of COVID-19 genes, making them highly accurate. They're besides much expensive, usually costing much than $100 apiece.

Rapid antigen tests simply observe the beingness of COVID-19 antigens -- the substances that punctual your immune strategy to make antibodies -- and enactment overmuch similar location gestation tests. If your illustration contains COVID-19 antigens, the bladed enactment of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies connected the trial portion volition alteration color.

Because accelerated tests are simply looking for the beingness of antigens, they enactment champion erstwhile idiosyncratic is symptomatic. Rapid antigen tests are little palmy with aboriginal infections and asymptomatic cases. The hazard of a mendacious antagonistic is overmuch higher with a accelerated trial than a mendacious positive.

The benignant of trial you take volition mostly beryllium connected your situation. Do you request results close now, and are consenting to hazard little accuracy? Then accelerated antigen fits your bill. If you privation person to 100% accuracy and don't request instant results, the "gold standard" PCR is your champion choice.

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What to bash if you trial affirmative for COVID-19 utilizing an at-home test?

If you instrumentality an at-home trial and it's affirmative for COVID-19, it's recommended that you stock the results with your aesculapian supplier and section wellness department. Methods of reporting self-tests to wellness departments alteration wildly, though: Some person online forms, others necessitate email and inactive others usage telephone reporting. Check your section wellness section website for circumstantial info connected however to study a affirmative result.

After receiving a affirmative trial result, you should isolate for astatine slightest 5 days -- longer if you're symptomatic -- according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though the hazard of mendacious positives from accelerated tests is low, astir aesculapian experts and wellness officials inactive urge confirming a affirmative at-home trial with a consequent PCR test.

For much information, here's the latest connected the national vaccine mandate and everything you request to cognize astir the Moderna booster shot.

The accusation contained successful this nonfiction is for acquisition and informational purposes lone and is not intended arsenic wellness oregon aesculapian advice. Always consult a doc oregon different qualified wellness supplier regarding immoderate questions you whitethorn person astir a aesculapian information oregon wellness objectives.

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