How to Get Free COVID Tests from the Government, Insurance, & Locally

The U.S. government has launched a new campaign and website for free COVID tests for anyone who wants them. There are 3 different options available at the moment, including getting 4 free tests mailed directly to you through the USPS, which is a nice new surprise. Read on for more details on how and where to get free COVID tests – I’ll try to break down the 3 options available as simply as I can.




How to Get Free COVID Tests

The new official site to get more information on free COVID tests is covidtests.gov. As of right now, there are 3 different options available to get free COVID testing:

1. Get 4 COVID Tests Mailed Directly from the USPS

  • Test Type: rapid antigen, at-home self tests (no drop-off).
  • Length of Time for Test Results: 30 minutes.
  • Insurance Status: insured or uninsured individuals.
  • Quantity: limit of 8 tests “per residential address” (4 tests sent per order). Originally, you could only order 4 tests, but then households were permitted to place a 2nd order of free COVID tests (+4 more) and a 3rd order of free COVID tests (+8 more), bringing the total to 16 per household.
  • How to Get a Free COVID Test: the 16 tests (3 orders) must be requested at special.usps.com/testkits. You only need to submit your name and address (email address is optional for shipping confirmation and status updates).
  • When: orders have already started. Tests will begin shipping (at no charge) at the end of January. Estimated processing/shipping time is 7-12 days, but delivery times may vary based on test availability.
  • Thoughts: I’ve already placed my order. Couldn’t have been easier, with only name and address required. I have a feeling that the original allotment of these are going to go quick.

how to get free COVID tests

2. Get Reimbursed by Your Health Insurer for At-Home Testing

  • Test Type: rapid antigen, at-home self tests (no drop off)
  • Length of Time for Test Results: 30 minutes
  • Insurance Status: insured individuals
  • Quantity: up to 8 tests per insured person, per month (e.g. 3 insured persons x 8 tests = 24 tests per month)
  • How to Get a Free COVID Test: buy the over-the-counter (OTC) COVID tests anywhere that sells them (e.g. local pharmacy or other retailer). Insurers are urged to set up networks where you won’t have to pay out-of-pocket. If you do, hold on to your receipt, and check with your insurer on their reimbursement process. Insurers are required to reimburse the full amount, up to $12 per test (so try to stay under that price, which is doable). More details found here.
  • When: starting January 15, 2022. You will not be able to be retroactively reimbursed for tests purchased prior to January 15, 2022.
  • Thoughts: a good option for those who are insured, if they run out of the 4 free tests in option #1.

3. Get a Free Rapid or PCR Test at Over 20,000 Testing Sites

  • Test Type: rapid antigen or PCR tests at a testing site
  • Length of Time for Test Results: 30 minutes (rapid antigen) or up to 24 hours (PCR)
  • Insurance Status: insured (covered by your insurer) or uninsured (paid for by the federal Uninsured Program) individuals
  • Quantity: no limit specified (as needed, seemingly)
  • How to Get a Free COVID test: start here to see what testing sites have teamed up with the government in your state. National testing site options include:
  • When: this program has already started.

For more information on when to get tested for COVID, see the latest CDC guidance.

Related Posts:

Where to Get Free or the Cheapest Flu Shots

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  1. Hank

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