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LabCorp at-home coronavirus testing kit review

The first test you can get sent to your home without a prescription or referral.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first at-home coronavirus testing kit on April 21, 2020 — a nasal swab kit called the Pixel and sold by LabCorp. According to the agency, LabCorp submitted data that proved the kit was as safe and accurate as a test performed at a hospital, doctor’s office or other testing site — and it’s now available to the general public with no upfront cost.

On December 9, 2020, the Pixel test became the first test to be available over-the-counter without a prescription or referral. This means more people can access at-home testing without an additional administrative step.

Is the LabCorp at-home coronavirus testing kit FDA-approved?

No. Though the FDA has authorized the LabCorp at-home coronavirus testing kit, it has not gone through the extensive testing needed for FDA approval.

It is the first at-home coronavirus testing kit to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the agency, so that people can access it during the coronavirus pandemic.

To put this into context, the FDA typically takes anywhere from a few months or years to approve new devices or drugs. But with EUAs, the type of testing the FDA does on the product is decidedly less extensive than the review it conducts for approval. Because of this, products with an EUA are only authorized for use as long as the public health emergency lasts.

As of December 16, 2020, the FSA has authorized a handful of other nasal swab and saliva tests for at-home use.

Am I eligible to buy a LabCorp testing kit?

Yes, the LabCorp kit is available to anyone who may have been exposed to the coronavirus — not just healthcare workers or first responders.

Do I need a doctor’s referral or prescription to buy a kit?

No. But before you can purchase the kit, you’ll need to fill out a quick four-question survey. Your answers are assessed by a healthcare professional, who decides if you qualify to take the test.

If so, you’re directed to complete your purchase — and the checkout process is entirely online in most states.

What states are LabCorp at-home testing kits available in?

You can purchase a LabCorp testing kit in every state except:

  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island

They aren’t available nationwide due to restrictions on ordering laboratory tests. If you live in one of those states and suspect you have COVID-19, ask your local healthcare provider for your testing options.

How much does it cost?

LabCorp’s coronavirus test kit costs $119. That price includes:

  • The testing materials, like the nasal swab
  • Two-way overnight shipping via Fedex
  • The services of physicians from PWNHealth, who assess each applicant’s eligibility to take the test
  • Laboratory testing of your sample

However, you won’t have to pay for the test up front. Simply provide LabCorp with your health insurance details and they’ll file a claim or use federal funds to cover the upfront cost of the test if you’re uninsured.

Does health insurance cover it?

Yes, LabCorp will file a claim with your insurer on your behalf or use federal funds to pay for the test if you’re uninsured. Private health insurers are required to cover diagnostic testing for the coronavirus under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

What do customers say about the LabCorp at-home coronavirus testing kit?

Since the kit just launched, there isn’t much consumer chatter online yet. We’ll update this page as more customer reviews become available.

How can I buy a LabCorp at-home testing kit?

Follow these steps to complete a short eligibility survey to see if you qualify to purchase a kit online:

  1. Go to the Pixel by LabCorp website.
  2. Click Get started.
  3. If you live in Maryland, New Jersey, New York or Rhode Island, click Yes. (You’re not eligible to purchase a kit at this time.) Otherwise, click No.
  4. Select the option that best describes your symptoms: Severe, Mild or None.
  5. Select your level of exposure to the coronavirus in the past two weeks.
  6. Select whether you’re at high or low risk if you develop the coronavirus.
  7. If LabCorp determines you’re eligible for a kit, continue on to the checkout.

How soon will I get my kit?

Kits usually ship via FedEx in one to two business days. Once you receive yours, follow the directions to collect your sample, place it in the specimen bag, and then ship it back to the lab using the prepaid packaging.

For the most accurate results, drop off your sample to FedEx before the last pickup of the day. Depending on where you live, this might be noon, 4.30 p.m. or 5 p.m.

How do I collect my sample, and does it hurt?

You’ll need to swab your nose, and LabCorp put together a video with step-by-step instructions to walk you through the process.

Here’s the gist:

  1. Insert the swab into your nostril.
  2. Swirl the swab around the inside edge of your nostril three times.
  3. Repeat step 2 in the other nostril using the same end of the swab.

The swab shouldn’t hurt, but it may feel uncomfortable for a few seconds.

How soon will I receive my results?

The lab typically releases results within two to four days of receiving your specimen — but that timeframe may vary depending on demand and the severity of your symptoms.

You’ll get an email when your results are ready, and you can log in to Pixel by LabCorp’s portal to access them online. You can also request to talk to a physician about your results at this time.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

Follow the steps outlined by the physician. If you’re experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, it’s likely your physician will tell you to self-isolate for at least 14 days and avoid sharing items with other people in your home.

If your condition worsens and you’re having trouble breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

Does a negative test result mean I definitely don’t have coronavirus?

Not necessarily. LabCorp says individual responses to the virus differ, so a negative result may not always be accurate.

If you didn’t package the specimen properly or send it back within the specified time period, this may also affect the results.

More about LabCorp

Founded in 1969, LabCorp is one of the largest clinical laboratories in the world, and has 36 labs across the US. It creates diagnostic tests for a range of medical conditions, and performs tests on over 2.5 million samples a week.

Bottom line

The Pixel by LabCorp is the first at-home coronavirus testing kit to be authorized by the FDA. It requires you to swab your nose and send the specimen back to the lab for testing within 24 hours.

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