In the wake of the surge in COVID-19 cases, driven in part by the highly contagious variant omicron, this week the White House advertisement which will distribute 500 million rapid home tests to Americans at no cost. If you need one, keep reading. Here’s everything we know about how and when you can get free COVID-19 home tests in the US.
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The collision of the omicron variant with the winter holidays created a strong demand for COVID-19 testing, which also ran into a shortage of over-the-counter home tests and an inadequate infrastructure to perform PCR testing in person.
That is why it was decided to distribute free trials. But on top of that, President Joe Biden said his administration will establish “emergency testing sites” in locations that need additional capacity.
The Biden administration will make the free trials available on a date yet to be announced, but what is final is that it will be in January.
“500 million tests in January is the largest request we have made to date, and we will do it as quickly as we can, but they will not be available until January,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a recent briefing.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of eight different brands of rapid home COVID tests.
Americans who want a free trial will need to request one. To do this, the administration will establish websites, which will allow citizens to request a quick test that will be sent to their homes sometime in January.
“We will have more information as it becomes available, including what the website looks like,” said Psaki. “We will make the website available as soon as these tests are,” added the secretary.
In accordance with NPR, the regions that will provide free COVID testing for some or all residents are: some large cities, such as New York, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, and states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Washington, Iowa, Ohio, Maryland, and Colorado.
For most of the 150 million Americans with private health insurance, the short answer is: not yet.
In early December, the Biden administration announced it would issue an injunction, which would require private insurers to fully reimburse the costs of COVID-19 home tests purchased without a prescription. But Refund requirement has not yet gone into effect. Still, the White House said it would release the exact details of the rule before Jan.15.
The reimbursement mandate will also not be retroactive for past purchases, meaning the millions of Americans who spent money to purchase rapid tests in preparation for the holidays will have to bear those costs out of pocket.
As an isolated case, the state of Vermont It is mandated at the state level that requires all insurers operating in the state to reimburse for all over-the-counter medications. But while most private insurers cover the costs of COVID-19 tests performed in a medical setting or at an exam site, many insurers will only reimburse for over-the-counter tests that were ordered by a doctor.
In case you can afford a COVID-19 home test and need one soon, we tell you that they are available at pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart. You can also buy them online at Amazon and through the websites of the stores mentioned. (Although it is not clear how you can claim the tests on your insurance if you buy online.)
However, keep in mind that with the advent of omicron, many retailers, including those mentioned above, are limiting the amount of evidence that can be purchased at one time.
Amazon is limiting shoppers to 10 tests, Walmart is allowed to buy up to eight per order, CVS has set a limit of six tests per customer, and Walgreens has limited online and pharmacy purchases to four exams.