You May Be Eligible for 8 Free COVID-19 Home Test Kits Every Month

·6 min read
Photo credit: George Frey - Getty Images
Photo credit: George Frey - Getty Images


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  • Federal health officials have reopened a government website that processes orders of rapid, at-home COVID tests, delivered free of charge.

  • Households within the United States can now order eight additional test kits for free at COVIDTests.gov.

  • Those who have already redeemed the offer for free testing kits delivered to a single address may seek additional free at-home test kits at certain federal testing centers.

  • For those with private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, insurance providers are increasingly required to reimburse you at least $12 per test (if not more) up to eight times per month.

  • Learn more on the rules of how to get reimbursed for at-home COVID-19 test fees below.

Americans can now order a third round of free COVID-19 test kits to be used at home, free of charge, through a federal health site that's been established at COVIDTests.gov by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Fulfilled by U.S. Postal Service mail carriers, eight free at-home COVID-19 test kits will be delivered to each U.S. household address, with many orders shipping ahead of the first summer holidays.

Individuals will be asked to register for eight rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits via a USPS order portal after visiting the federal site — according to instructions shared on site, orders will ship in separate packages. Americans will then receive two separate confirmation emails after filing their request, with tracking information for two packages that contain four tests each.

White House officials announced the expansion of additional free tests in mid-May, citing the spread of Omicron-fueled COVID-19 cases across the nation as a reason for Americans to continue to frequently monitor their health. More than 350 million free tests have been delivered to households as part of the federal health initiative, "with most tests delivered by the U.S. Postal Service within 48 hours of shipping," officials said.

But if you're already claimed up to 16 free tests through USPS delivery, there are still ways to receive free at-home COVID-19 testing kits through local Medicaid programs as well as your private insurance. Read more to learn how you can get free COVID-19 tests this summer.

How to order free at-home COVID-19 tests:

Simply visit COVIDTests.gov and select "Order Free At-Home Tests" on the site's homepage. From there, you'll be directed to a USPS site where you'll share your contact information and desired shipping information. While health insurance information or further identification isn't required, federal officials have limited COVID-19 test orders to one per household — if you lived in a shared residence, be sure to indicate your apartment or unit number, or your order may not be processed.

Shared-family households can currently only receive 8 test kits per order. HHS officials note on the website that packages usually require between seven to 12 days of processing before they're shipped out.

How to get free COVID-19 testing kits from pharmacies and other retailers:

Americans who are medically insured, either purchased through the federal marketplace or through their employer, may be eligible for free at-home COVID-19 tests at a local pharmacy or retailer — or, at the very least, can get fully or partially reimbursed for up to eight at-home tests per month.

According to materials published by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, insured individuals can request FDA-approved at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests for free if their selected insurance plan provides direct coverage. But even if your insurance doesn't cover the cost of an at-home testing kit upfront, federal programs enable you to get fully reimbursed for the full cost of the test you've paid for.

And if your plan requires you to purchase a certain kind of test at a particular pharmacy for full benefits, you're still entitled to a partial refund if you provide your receipt for proof of purchase.

"If your plan has set up a network of preferred providers at which you can obtain a test with no out-of-pocket expense, you can still obtain tests from other retailers outside that network," the HHS site reads. "Insurance companies are required to reimburse you at a rate of up to $12 per individual test, or the cost of the test itself, if less than $12."

But a majority of insurance plans have gone ahead and authorized free at-home test kits given a new insurance rule that allows individuals to ask for full refunds.

"If the plan or insurer doesn't set up a process through which individuals can obtain a test with no upfront costs, then the plan and insurer must reimburse the full cost of the test, even if the test costs more than $12," HHS continues.

Pharmacies like CVS are also making it easier for customers to order at-home test kits using their medical insurance card directly. More often than not, Americans can place an order for at-home test kits online using their insurance plan information at "zero upfront out-of-pocket cost and without the need to submit a claim to [your] health insurance provider," a CVS Health representative tells Good Housekeeping.

The chain of pharmacies allows those with in-network plans to pick up their tests from any chosen store location using this method. Additionally, some plans allow individuals to pay for at-home tests using their insurance card at a CVS pharmacy counter in store, with no notice needed.

How to get free COVID-19 tests through Medicare or Medicaid:

While it's true that some test providers have blocked uninsured individuals from receiving free COVID-19 testing, even those who may only have access to Medicare or Medicaid can find additional free at-home COVID-19 tests. The list of pharmacies that offer free at-home COVID-19 testing for those enrolled in Medicare are listed here; the same general limit applies, with a cap of eight free tests each month.

For those with Medicaid, the American Rescue Plan requires state programs to cover at-home COVID-19 tests for policyholders, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "People with Medicaid or CHIP coverage should contact their state Medicaid or CHIP agency for information regarding the specifics of coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests, as coverage rules may vary by state," HHS states on the same webpage.

Those with sole Medicare Part A plans and no supplementary coverage cannot pay for at-home test kits through the American Rescue Plan's provisions. But HHS and state health officials have established more than 10,000 community-based pharmacy testing sites around the country, where many at-home kits will be available to those in need, as noted by the HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration.

If you're looking for free at-home test kits, regardless of what kind of Medicare you may be subscribed to, start by visiting one of the federally funded HHS testing sites near you. "People without insurance can also get free at-home tests from some community health centers," HHS officials noted.

As more information about the coronavirus pandemic develops, some of the information in this story may have changed since it was last updated. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit online resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department.

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