The COVID pandemic has upended our lives in ways we never thought possible. And given the recent surge of the new variant, BA.5, it’s critical we do everything we can to get vaccinated and protect ourselves and our loved ones. Plus, it helps to know your status if you’re exposed to other risks like STDs and HIV, as these can impact your body’s response to COVID-19. One way to do that is by getting a free test kit.
Yes, you read that right. The U.S. government is now providing free at-home test kits for anyone who needs to determine if they have the virus. The kits offer everything you need to collect a sample from your nose or throat, and they can be ordered online through the government’s website – covidtests.gov. Once you order, the US Postal Service (USPS) ships the tests to you.
Households in the US are eligible to free test kits, and there’s no deadline to order them. The first batch of free test kits was rolled out in January and allowed US citizens free access to four tests. In March, the government offered an additional four tests. And later, you could order eight more tests, making a total of 16 tests. If you haven’t already, you may request your free at-home COVID-19 test kit.
How to Get Your Test Kit
To get your free at-home COVID-19 test kit, go to covidtests.gov and click on the “Order free at-home tests” button. You’ll be redirected to the USPS website, after which you can enter your contact information and shipping address.
Then, click the “Check Out Now” button, verify the information you entered, and you’re good to go – after placing your order. Once you submit that information, you’ll get the third round of eight free test kits in two packages – each containing four tests that may arrive on different dates. Plus, USPS ships the packages free.
Upon order placement, expect a confirmation email. Usually, USPS ships within a week or so after you place your order and will notify you and provide a tracking number. To acknowledge receipt of the packages, you can copy-paste the tracking number into the Postal Service’s site.
According to the FDA, you can purchase FDA-approved COVID-19 test kits online or from a pharmacy or retail store. This is way more convenient than waiting for the USPS to ship your order, especially if you might be having symptoms of the virus and need a test ASAP.
Your health plan should cover at most eight tests monthly for every individual enrolled in a household. For instance, if you have three members in a family, you can get 24 tests free monthly.
Usually, the insurer will reimburse you for your out-of-pocket expense for the test kit if they don’t offer direct coverage. If you need to claim from your insurer, remember not to toss your receipt, as this may invalidate your claim.
Generally, you can acquire a test kit from your insurer’s network of preferred stores or retailers. Alternatively, your insurer should also reimburse you if you opt to get your kit from other retailers. You’ll receive at most $12 as reimbursement per test- depending on the cost of the equipment.
But, if your insurer hasn’t set up a network of potential stores to get the kits from, they’ll have to reimburse you for the actual cost. For instance, if you buy three kits at $45, that will be your due.
Community Health Centers
If uninsured, you can access test kits at some community health centers. Find out from your local center if they are part of the government’s plan to distribute 50 million kits.
These test kits are available to people and places needing testing, especially high-risk populations that may be affected by the virus’ adverse effects. If you can’t get a kit at a center near you, consider visiting the government’s site (as detailed above).
The at-home kit can tell whether you’re positive or not upon collecting your sample. If you test positive, it’s important to self-isolate and contacts your healthcare provider. With early diagnosis, you can get the treatment you need and help prevent the spread of the virus. So if you’re experiencing symptoms or think you may have been exposed to the virus, order a free test kit today. It could be the first step in keeping yourself and others safe.
Ultimately, at-home kits provide a good line of defense against the virus. But, tests alone aren’t sufficient. We should be proactive about social distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands often. In short, we can help flatten the curve and get through this pandemic together with a little effort.