How to order free at-home COVID tests today — but note, there’s a wait

Posted: 18 January 2022 7:43 pm
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Starting Jan. 18, every household can order up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests. Here’s how to order them, or find one now if you can’t wait for delivery.

Americans can now order free at-home COVID-19 tests.

The Biden administration on Tuesday soft-launched the website, a day before the site was scheduled to officially go online, allowing Americans to start ordering free at-home COVID-19 tests.

Starting Jan. 18, Americans will be able to order four free at-home COVID-19 test kits directly from the government, providing some relief to a shortage of at-home tests caused by the highly-contagious Omicron variant and a surge in demand.

The website will officially launch Wednesday, according to the Seattle Times, but was opened up Tuesday for beta testing.

In late Dec. 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration announced it would be buying 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests to give to every US household for free. This followed an announcement earlier that month that individuals who purchase COVID-19 diagnostic tests over the counter will be able to seek reimbursement from their health insurance issuer.

Here’s what you need to know about how to order free COVID-19 test kits for your home.

At-home COVID test details

The following information will tell you where to order your free tests, how many you can order and when you can expect to receive them.

Where can you order the tests?

Starting Jan. 18, visit to order your free at-home tests or go directly to the United States Postal Service (USPS) COVID-19 test order form.

Simply provide your name and mailing address to place your order.

How many tests can you order?

Every US household can order one set of COVID tests. Each set includes four individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests.

When will you get your tests?

Orders will ship free of charge seven to 12 days after you place your order. So you’ll have to wait for delivery.

Purchase at-home tests yourself, file for reimbursement

Not fast enough? At-home tests are available for sale around the US at various retailers and pharmacies, and online. Availability has been limited for the last few months though due to a surge in demand as the Omicron variant continues to rage.

Drugstores are struggling to keep at-home COVID tests in stock. Tests are usually selling out within hours after hitting the shelves.

Order tests on Amazon and at other online retailers, but shipments may also be delayed for at least a couple weeks.

Tests purchased after January 15 are eligible for reimbursement

Starting January 15, COVID-19 tests authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will either be free directly at the point of sale or by reimbursement if you purchase your test out of pocket.

If you have a health plan that provides for direct coverage, order the tests free of charge. Those without coverage must submit a claim for reimbursement, so make sure to keep your receipt.

Tests purchased prior to January 15 may not be eligible for reimbursement, but it might be worth confirming with your insurance provider.

How many tests can you get reimbursed?

Insurance companies are required to provide reimbursement for eight tests per month for each person on the plan at a rate of up to $12 per individual test, or the cost of the test, if less than $12.

How long will it take to receive your reimbursement?

According to the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services website, there’s no government-mandated reimbursement timeline.

Health plans are encouraged to provide prompt reimbursement for claims for at-home tests, but you’ll need to find out directly from your plan how its claims process works. If there’s a surge in claims, you can probably expect delays.

COVID-19 test sites are still available to everyone in the US

Health centers and select pharmacies nationwide are still providing low or no-cost COVID-19 tests for everyone, even the uninsured. Additional testing sites may be available in your area as well.

Pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens offer various test types, whether you’re sick or need a test for travel.

Health centers provide COVID-19 testing to individuals who meet criteria for COVID-19 testing.

Search for a community-based testing site near you to see what options are available to you in your area.

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