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Soon, You’ll Be Able to Get A Free Covid Test!


Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Free Covid Test

Omicron’s staggering numbers have public health experts everywhere reeling, and with good reason. Its reach is unprecedented and it’s spreading much faster than any variant we’ve seen thus far.

In the Biden administration’s latest public outreach program, health insurance providers will soon be required to provide free COVID testing for all policyholders. How can you and your family take advantage of this new mandate in January?

Free COVID Test Kits: What’s the Deal?

Currently, President Biden is in the midst of unveiling a multi-faceted approach to managing Omicron within our borders. 

Some of the provisions that he announced recently include:

  1. An expanded booster shot campaign
  2. More family-inclusive vaccination clinics
  3. Improving the work of “surge response teams,” locally-based squads of medical personnel dedicated specifically to combatting COVID in areas where cases are rising
  4. A commitment to global health, which includes the allocation of surplus vaccines to other nations in dire need
  5. An intention to make free, at-home COVID testing a viable and convenient option for everyone

All five of these objectives set the stage for a more promising, COVID-free future. This last pledge regarding free coronavirus tests to all US citizens is one that has many breathing a sigh of relief.

How can you secure a free COVID test for yourself and all of your loved ones? The preliminary details are scant, but here’s what we know so far.

How to Get a Free COVID Test?

COVID-19 tests will soon be considered free to the public, largely through insurance reimbursements. Beginning in January 2022, your health insurance provider will be required by law to cover the cost of any COVID test that you undergo. All that you’ll need to do is submit your proof of payment.

It’s a generous consideration that applies to any COVID test:

  • At-home COVID tests
  • COVID tests conducted at a pharmacy, health center, or clinic
  • A COVID test carried out under a doctor’s orders

Those who lack health insurance will also be able to get tested for free, although the process will differ slightly. 

Instead of getting tested and compensated, the uninsured will instead be able to pick up a free COVID test kit right off the bat from a number of authorized distributors working out of pharmacies, healthcare centers, and shelters.

The usual drive-thru pop-ups and temporary clinics will all be able to serve the public through these measures. The homeless, the financially insecure, and everybody in between will all be able to get tested safely and professionally at no charge.

Your Current Options For Covid Test 

The US Department of Health and Human Services provides a convenient and comprehensive list of COVID testing options on its site[1], with an additional section broken down by state. You can get tested or acquire an at-home test kit from any of the following sources:

  • Health centers (although many will require that you book an appointment in advance)
  • Places like Walgreens, CVS, and many independent pharmacies, as well
  • Some Walmart locations, in partnership with Quest Diagnostics
  • Online, on sites like Amazon

At-home, rapid COVID tests will usually be found at any pharmacy, local or otherwise, as well as at many department stores and supermarkets. Once President Biden’s plan has officially been set into motion, all of these options will be eligible for insurance reimbursement. Save your receipt for when the time comes to submit it next year.

What To Do If Your Test Comes Back Positive?

A positive COVID test is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. The Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for a positive coronavirus test can be found here[2]. The key takeaways:

  • If your COVID test is positive, you should self-quarantine for ten days
  • As with any other illness, bed rest and hydration should both be priorities
  • Let those around you know that you’ve contracted the coronavirus and that you intend to social distance until you’ve recovered
  • Wear a mask whenever you’re in close quarters with anybody, including your family and the other members of your household
  • Contact tracing[3] keeps your community safe — if you receive your call after testing positive for COVID, provide any information that you’re able to provide
  • Participate in any community mitigation practices that those around you subscribe to
  • For those experiencing life-threatening symptoms, consult your physician immediately

If your COVID test result is negative, congratulations! You’ve potentially eliminated as a potential cause of your symptoms if that was your reason for getting tested in the first place. 

Not all negative results are fully valid, however. If you tested negative and still feel sick after several days’ time, you might be the victim of a false negative COVID test.

Many healthcare workers and other high-risk professionals test themselves for COVID routinely, a practice known as serial testing. You don’t necessarily need to test yourself on a weekly basis if your profession or lifestyle does not put you at constant risk.  A second test, however, might be advisable for those who still exhibit symptoms even after receiving a negative test result.

As with anything else, the quality of the test may make some testing options more reliable than others. For the most accurate COVID test possible, we always recommend going straight to the source: your doctor or a clinic dedicated to COVID testing and treatment.

Free COVID Tests for Everybody

With Omicron picking right up where the Delta variant left off, people are panicking more than ever. As with any problem in life, knowing what you’re dealing with is half of the battle.  Having access to a free COVID-19 test is one way to know what you’re up against, clear the air, and provide peace of mind.

President Biden’s free COVID test mandate takes full effect in January 2022. To learn how you can take advantage of this benefit, reach out to your health insurer or healthcare provider for everything that you’ll need to get started.

+ 3 sources

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  1. Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) (2020). Community-Based Testing Sites for COVID-19. [online] HHS.gov. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/community-based-testing-sites/index.html [Accessed 23 Dec. 2021].
  2. CDC (2020). Self-Testing. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/self-testing.html#anchor_1620926181610 [Accessed 23 Dec. 2021].
  3. CDC (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19) frequently asked questions. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#Contact-Tracing [Accessed 23 Dec. 2021].

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

Emma Garofalo is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of science, art, and all things culinary, few things excite her more than the opportunity to learn about something new." It is now in the sheet in the onboarding paperwork, apologies!!

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

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