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How To Get Free Rapid COVID Tests

Covid-19 rapid antigen home testing kit

January 18th, 2022 – With the surge in Omnicron cases, COVID testing is become part of daily life for many people across Colorado.  As of today, you can order 4 free rapid COVID tests per household, by visiting www.covidtests.gov.

I just ordered some for my household and it took 2 minutes.  No credit card is required and they just ask for name and mailing address and then they’re to ship your free rapid tests to you in 7-10 days. USPS will ship one order with 4 individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests per residential address.  There are 500 million tests currently available, so you may want to request yours as soon as you can.

The Biden administration said starting January 15th that insurers are required to cover the cost of rapid home COVID tests for their customers and it is to continue until the public health emergency ends.  This only applies only to people who are covered by individual and group health insurance policies, but not to people enrolled in Health First Colorado, Medicare or other public programs.

Insurance companies are required to pay for up to eight tests per covered person per month.   If you need any more then you’ll be out of pocket for those excess tests.  Also, insurers only have to cover tests needed for personal use, but not those required by an employer.

Note that insurance companies will be making arrangements with preferred pharmacies and stores, so check with your insurance company to see if they suggest a particular retailer.  At some point insurance companies will be able to limit reimbursements for out-of-network purchases to $12 per test or the actual cost, whichever is lower.

Alternatively, insurance companies are still supposed to cover the full costs of COVID tests administered at COVID Testing Centers, pharmacies, clinics, urgent care and other healthcare facilities, if you are symptomatic, have been exposed to COVID or are getting ready to travel.  Otherwise, you can expect to be 100% out of pocket for those testing costs.

At home antigen tests generally cost between $8 and $40 per individual test and are often sold in two packs. PCR tests generally run $75 per individual test.  I recently paid $80 for a PCR test at a COVID testing center, but I can submit a claim to my insurance company for reimbursement.

If you’re not able to find an at home test, you to can visit the HHS website to find a testing site near you.  Some tests will give fast results like the at home antigen rapid tests, while others are the more accurate PCR tests that generally take 1-3 days.  However, with spikes in COVID the processing times for PCR tests may take substantially longer.  Read more about the differences in accuracy between antigen and PCR tests.



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