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How to Get an At-Home COVID-19 Test Kit

Have you made room in your fall budget for COVID-19 tests? The Biden administration has announced that as of September 2, it’s ending a COVID test giveaway that ran throughout most of 2022.1

Starting in January of 2022, you had the option to be reimbursed through your health insurance for COVID-19 tests you bought online or at stores. But that coverage is no longer available due to concern that the national supply of tests might be running out.

Let’s dig into what the White House said about ending the program.

What Did the White House Announce?

In August 2022, a senior Biden administration official said a lack of congressional funding meant that the government was ending the free COVID-19 test program. Many Americans received free tests this year, either through insurance reimbursement or directly from the covidtests.org site. But a shrinking government stockpile of tests along with concerns about a possible surge of illness in the fall forced the program to close in September.2

The giveaway began in January, with the White House announcing that each individual was eligible for up to eight free at-home, FDA-approved COVID-19 tests a month covered by their private health insurance.3 (If your doctor ordered a test, it didn’t count toward your eight tests.)

The January launch followed a December 2021 announcement that the U.S. government was purchasing 1 billion at-home COVID-19 tests to be made freely available to Americans upon request.4

The Biden administration worked with certain pharmacies, retailers and other places to help people access the tests.

Which Insurance Programs Cover Free At-Home COVID Tests?

Private health insurance did temporarily cover free at-home tests, but with the giveaway expiring, the only real break you can get on at-home tests is by using your Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for them.5

If you’re part of a state Medicaid program or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), there’s good news—these programs already covered FDA-authorized, at-home tests under the American Rescue Plan, so the closing of the COVID-19 test giveaway won’t affect your access.

What about Medicare patients? You’re also still in the clear. Whether the tests become freely available to the public again or not, Medicare participants already have access to COVID-19 tests, with no cost-sharing requirements—as long as your doctor orders it.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, double-check with your insurers to see if they cover at-home kits.

How to Use Insurance to Pay for At-Home COVID Tests

At this point, free at-home COVID-19 tests are only available to participants in the types of health care coverage we mentioned in the previous section. So unless you’re covered by CHIP, Medicare or Medicaid, you’re footing the bill for your COVID tests.

You can get a little break by paying for your tests with an HSA, health flexible spending arrangement (health FSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), or Archer medical savings account (Archer MSA). Those accounts are funded with tax-free money, and you won’t pay taxes when you pull the money out to pay for your tests. You won’t save a ton—but it’s something!

Get the Best Health Insurance Coverage

Does all this talk about health insurance paying for things you need have you thinking about your own coverage? You may want to get in touch with our friends at Health Trust Financial. They'll connect you with a health insurance expert who can help you find an affordable plan that gives you the coverage you need.

And who knows? You might even be able to save some money for the same—or better—coverage.

 

Next Steps

Connect With Health Trust Financial

Frequently Asked Questions

Most commercially available at-home COVID-19 tests will set you back around $12 per test.6 You can sometimes get a discount by purchasing a two-pack.

Tests are available at pharmacies, other retailers and online. (If you find yourself meeting a guy in a dark alleyway, that’s probably not the best place to buy them . . .)

Guaranteed access to free tests has now ended, but it’s always possible you can still swing a freebie if you make some effort. If you get a test at one of your insurer’s “preferred” pharmacies, you might not pay anything out of pocket. However, in some cases, depending on the location, you might end up paying up front and having to file a claim later. Just don’t be surprised to find that your insurer won’t cover it.

Maybe. Your insurance company won’t be required to reimburse you for any tests, but they might still do it. Never hurts to ask!

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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