Are COVID Tests Still Free? Here’s How to Still Get the Free Trial

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With US government funding for the fight against COVID-19 running dry lately, there’s been a lot of misinformation and confusion about whether COVID tests are still free, so I’m going to do some definitive research for everyone. Wanted to because we come back. Colds, flu, and now “COVID season” this fall and winter. I will cover COVID tests here and COVID vaccines in an upcoming sister-article. Also, check out my article on How to Get a Cheap or Free Flu Shot Because the Flu Is Resurrecting.

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Are COVID Tests Still Free?

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Answer: It depends. You may recall that in early 2022, the US government organized 3 ways you could get a free COVID test:

Rapid at-home tests shipped from USPS (initially 4 tests, then a second order of 4 tests, and then 8 additional tests) Rapid at-home tests are reimbursed from your insurer for rapid or PCR tests at more than 20,000 testing sites Is.

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Funding for one of these 3 free COVID testing options has been completely exhausted, while the other 2 (as of now) are still available, but mostly for people with health insurance. All details can be found below.

Free at-home COVID tests no longer available from USPS

If you enjoyed no-hassle home COVID test delivery from the USPS, apparently you weren’t alone. The program started with 4 tests per residential address, a second round of 4 more tests were added, and then a third round of 8 more tests were added. However, it appears that too much can be a good thing. By the end of August the USPS had shipped a total of more than 600 million COVID tests and funding for the at-home delivery program was completely exhausted, resulting in the suspension of test orders at the USPS COVID testing site. If you visit the site today, it ominously states,

This program is not currently accepting orders for a free at-home test for COVID-19.

The trial order through this program is suspended with effect from September 2, 2022.

Covidtests.gov provides only a little more detail on the situation:

Ordering through the free at-home testing program was suspended Friday, Sept. 2, because Congress did not provide additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests.

While it is possible that funding for free COVID test shipments from the USPS will be reinstated, this is unlikely at the moment.

Can you use expired COVID test? Most at-home COVID test expiration dates extended

The free COVID test you are looking for may be the one you already have. The FDA is granting shelf-life extensions for several at-home COVID tests beyond the original expiration dates listed on the packaging, including the iHealth, QuickVue, and Abbott BinaxNow kits that were shipped by the USPS. In some cases, the extension has been made up to 18 months. So, if you have stockpiled several tests from the USPS, they may still be usable. See linked-to list above for more details.

How to Still Get Free COVID Testing

If you don’t have any more COVID tests in stock, you’re left with 2 ways you can still get an effectively free COVID test (for now). Spoiler: You’ll need health insurance to take benefits, unless a state, county, or local health department has allocated money for free tests. Here’s how to potentially still get free COVID testing:

1. Get reimbursed by your health insurer for at-home COVID test test: Rapid antigen, self test at home (no drop off) Health insurance condition requirement: Insured only Quantity: Up to 8 tests per month per insured ( eg 3 insured x 8 tests = 24 tests per month) How to get a free COVID test: Buy over-the-counter (OTC) COVID tests anywhere that sells them (such as a local pharmacy or other retailer) . Insurers are urged to set up such networks where you do not have to pay out of pocket. Stick to your receipt, and check with your insurer about their reimbursement process. Insurers are required to reimburse the full amount of up to $12 per test (so try to stay under that price, as much as possible). Amazon has the same FDA-approved iHealth, QuickVue, and Abbott BinaxNow trials that the USPS shipped this year—all available for purchase for less than $12 each, so you may be able to get a full reimbursement. How to get reimbursed for COVID test at home: Check out this guide. Your health insurer should have more information. 2. Get a free rapid or PCR COVID test at over 20,000 test sites Test type: Rapid antigen or PCR test at the test site Duration of time for test results: 30 minutes (Rapid antigen) or up to 24 hours (PCR ) Health Insurance Status Requirement: Dependent on the insurer. For example, Walgreens states: “If you meet the criteria for a no-cost test through your insurance or a government-funded program, you will have out-of-pocket costs. Confirmation of meeting the test’s coverage criteria.” You should contact your insurer prior to scheduling to do so.” Quantity: Check with your insurer How to get a free COVID test: Start here to see what testing sites may be available in your state. National test site options include:

Stay healthy there.

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