If you have private health insurance, you are eligible for a free home COVID test starting Saturday, January 15. The Biden administration announced earlier this week that it would require private insurers to pay for eight monthly at-home COVID tests. Every customer covered by the plan.
But finding tests will remain a challenge in the coming weeks. Additionally, many insurers will not have systems that allow customers to access testing without out-of-pocket costs. This means you may have to pay for the test up front and then file a reimbursement claim with your insurance company.
Want to learn more about how to get a free home COVID test? Here’s everything you need to know.
Does my insurance company need to offer free home COVID testing?
Yes, if you have a private insurance plan. If you get coverage through your employer, or if you purchased a plan on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, your plan pays for eight tests per month.
Does everyone in my family get 8 free tests?
Yes. The mandate requires insurers to provide eight free tests per month for everyone covered by the plan. If you have a family of four and everyone is insured under your plan, your family can be tested 32 times a month.
How do I get free COVID test kits?
Check with your insurance company to see if it has a network of preferred pharmacies and retailers. If you get the test from within the insurance company’s network, you should be able to get the test for free.
You can also purchase your test elsewhere and submit a claim for reimbursement. If you go that route, be sure to keep a copy of your receipt. Note, however, that if your insurance company has a preferred network and you choose to leave the network, reimbursement is capped at $12 per test. If your insurance company doesn’t have a preferred network, they have to cover 100% of the cost no matter where you buy the test kit.
If your insurance company requires you to file a reimbursement claim, purchase your COVID tests separately from other items and get a receipt to simplify things.
Do I need to pay in advance?
Please consult your insurance company. But there’s a good chance you’ll need to pay for the test out of pocket in the first place.as According to the New York Times, the home test does not have the billing codes that insurance companies need to process claims. Many insurers will require customers to save receipts and file reimbursement claims, just as if you were out of the network for care.
Can I buy all 8 tests at once?
Yes. You can purchase all eight tests at once or at intervals throughout the month. But keep in mind that as of this writing on January 14, 2022, testing kits are still in very short supply.
What if I don’t have health insurance?
The federal government is buying 1 billion home tests and will soon launch a website that will allow anyone to apply for free home tests. You can also visit a community health center that offers free rapid tests.
Can I get a free test if I take Medicaid?
Yes. The $1.9 trillion COVID Relief Act, passed in March 2021, already requires state Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance plans to cover home testing kits under the U.S. Relief Program.
Can I get a free test if I enroll in Medicare?
Originals do not cover home testing medical insurance. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your plan to see if they will pay for home testing. Once the federal test ordering site is up, you can also access free tests, or go to a community health center for a quick test.
Will Virginia Cover Home Testing?
The Department of Veterans Affairs is not sending free tests for now, but in many cases veterans can get free tests at VA hospitals. Veterans will also be able to order free tests once the federal website launches.
Will I be reimbursed for the testing fees I have paid?
Please consult your insurance company. Federal law does not require insurance companies to retroactively cover home tests purchased before January 15, 2022. However, some states already require insurance companies to cover home testing.