Free COVID-19 tests: Here's the White House website to order free at-home kits - CNET

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Starting Jan. 15, security companies indispensable screen the outgo of at-home accelerated COVID-19 tests.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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

On Friday, the Biden medication announced that starting Jan. 19 Americans volition beryllium capable to petition 4 escaped COVID-19 tests per household at, with kits shipping wrong 7 to 12 days.

"This programme volition guarantee that Americans person at-home, accelerated COVID-19 tests disposable successful the weeks and months up -- successful summation to the fig of different ways they tin get tested," the White House said successful a release. "The medication is rapidly completing a contracting process for the unprecedented acquisition of 1 cardinal at-home, accelerated tests to administer arsenic portion of this program." 

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The website launches 4 days aft wellness security companies indispensable statesman covering the outgo of 8 at-home trial kits per covered idiosyncratic each month. Coverage begins connected Jan. 15 and the federal mandate allows wellness security companies to found in-network pharmacies wherever they tin screen the outgo of tests up front, alternatively than necessitate reimbursement. 

For more, get the latest on mask mandates and how to take the close booster shot for you.

How bash I get escaped at-home COVID-19 tests?

Beginning Jan. 19, Americans volition beryllium capable to petition 4 escaped tests per household online at The United States Postal Service volition present kits successful the continental United States done First-Class Package Service. Shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, US Territories and immoderate subject addresses volition beryllium sent done Priority Mail. 

According to a White House statement, the kits volition usually vessel wrong 7 to 12 days of ordering.

President Biden announced Thursday the authorities was doubling the fig of disposable escaped tests to 1 cardinal and providing 5 cardinal PCR tests for free to schools per month. 

Several states person already started issuing escaped at-home COVID-19 tests to residents, including ColoradoNew JerseyMarylandOhioOregonMassachusettsIowaConnecticutWashington and New Hampshire. Washington, D.C., is making at-home tests disposable for pickup at country libraries while different cities, specified as 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 proviso concatenation snags: The hold successful Massachusetts forced immoderate schools to postpone 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 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 Biden. If an idiosyncratic has been directed to acquisition COVID-19 investigating by their aesculapian supplier due to the fact that of underlying wellness conditions oregon different factors, determination is nary bounds connected the fig of tests covered.

Carriers tin found in-network pharmacies wherever the outgo volition beryllium covered up front, and headdress sum astatine out-of-network retailers astatine $12 per test.  

Though the Biden program is not retroactive, immoderate states, including Vermont, mandated that insurers 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 tin I bargain at-home COVID-19 tests?

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 rapid 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.

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 analysis, 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 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 polymerase concatenation absorption 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 the 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, and 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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