How To Get Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests With Your Insurance

Photo: Getty/ Carol Yepes
The Biden administration recently announced that over-the-counter tests will be available to people with private insurance without seeing a health care provider, and "without any cost-sharing requirements such as deductibles, copayments or coinsurance, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements." More specifically, starting on January 15, your private insurance company will be required to cover eight tests each month—for every person on your plan.

What does this mean? If your family consists of five people, and you're all covered under the same private insurance plan, your household can get 40 free tests a month. The administration is encouraging health insurance companies to cover the costs of these tests upfront or through claim submission. If, however, you're confused about exactly how this works, we have some insight on how to get your free tests.

Call your insurance company and save your receipts

Every insurance company has slightly different processes, so contact your insurance to assess how they're handling claims or upfront payment. If you plan to purchase tests with your own money and file a claim, make sure you save your COVID-19 test receipts.

Some insurance companies might select "preferred" pharmacies, according to the HHS press release. This means that you could receive coverage for your tests upfront when you check out (no money comes out of your pocket). It might also involve showing your insurance card when you check out at the pharmacy. But, even if your insurance provider works with "preferred" pharmacies, you're still guaranteed coverage up to $12 per test at non-preferred participating sites. This will likely involve submitting a claim, which is another reason to hang on to your receipts.

Medicaid and Medicare plans provide coverage, too

If you have public health insurance, you have testing coverage. State Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) stipulate that FDA-authorized free at-home COVID-19 tests are covered. Additionally, COVID-19 testing provided by labs, including antigen and PCR tests, should be covered by Medicare without any co-pay or cost-sharing (However, you'll need provider authorization first). If you're covered by Medicare Advantage (an alternative form of Medicare that offers different benefits packages), reach out to their insurance providers to see what testing options are available.

If you don't have insurance, there are free testing sites

If you don't have insurance coverage, there are options. Though you won't be reimbursed for at-home testing kits, HHS says that there are over 10,000 free testing sites at pharmacies across the country, and they are working with FEMA to add additional surge testing sites as well. You can use this HHS locator to find a testing site near you.

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