What You Need to Know About Free COVID-19 Testing Programs
The government has officially reinstated the Free At-Home COVID Test Program in December 2022 – for the Winter of 2022-2023. As stated by the covid.gov site: “Every U.S. household is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests.”
However, with only 4 tests given out to each household, and with no notice of how long this program will last, many families and individuals should have and utilize more than 4 tests to get them through the winter months.
Let’s discuss ways to keep you stocked-up on COVID-19 at-home tests throughout the winter and beyond, along with what to look out for as scammers and fraudulent services gain momentum.
3 Reasons to Utilize Rapid Antigen Tests
Where can You Get Free COVID-19 Tests?
With COVID-19 At-Home tests needed throughout the country, let’s discuss the many ways in which you can have tests readily available without the burden of the cost.
- Government Provided Tests
- You can order your free tests directly here.
- Keep in mind that they only offer 4 tests per household – with no acknowledgement of sending additional tests beyond the 4.
- Pharmacy via Insurance
- Health plans and insurers have set up a network of convenient locations across the country such as pharmacies and/or retailers where people with private health coverage will be able to order online or walk in and pick up at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for free.
- Find out from your insurance plan or insurer if it provides direct coverage of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests through such a program or whether they will need to submit a claim for reimbursement. If you are charged for your test after January 15, keep your receipt and submit a claim to your insurance company for reimbursement.
- Insurance Reimbursement
- Depending on your health insurance, if you purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 test from a pharmacy, store, or online retailer and are charged for your test, keep your receipt and submit a claim to your insurance company for reimbursement.
- If your plan has set up a network of preferred stores, pharmacies, and online retailers at which you can obtain a test with no out-of-pocket expense, you can still obtain tests from other retailers if you buy them outside of that network.
- Purchase COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests with HSA/FSA Accounts
- Utilize a Free Testing Site
- You can find a local community free testing site here.
- Medicare/Medicaid Programs
- Medicare covers up to 8 over-the-counter COVID-19 tests each calendar month, at no cost to you.
- According to Medicare.gov Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) will cover these tests if you have Part B. (Medicare won’t cover over-the-counter COVID-19 tests if you only have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) coverage, but you may be able to get free tests through other programs or insurance coverage you may have.)
It’s important to note, while insurance reimbursements and using an HSA/FSA account are available, some individuals may not be able to utilize these options. Buying tests directly – whether online or in-store may be the best and quickest option when in need.
Additionally, each insurance company is different – you will want to reach out directly to your insurance provider. To find out more information about COVID-19 testing and insurance reimbursements overall – click here.
How to Avoid Scams and Fraudulent Services
With COVID-19 At-Home tests needed throughout the country, let’s address some of the issues that others have faced, and for you to avoid.
According to the AARP and The Federal Trade Commission, there have been multiple scams to be made aware of due to the need for COVID-19 tests. We have put together the main possible scenarios below and how to best avoid becoming a victim of free COVID-19 testing scams.
- Fake Pop-Up Testing Sites
- Some testing sites will not test without your social security number and/or other personal information - you should not give out that information.
- Get a referral. Go to a site recommended by your doctor or state or local health department. Do not trust random testing sites you see around town.
- You can make sure the testing site you are going to is legitimate by using this site.
- Imposters posing as legitimate companies - stating that they provide free COVID-19 tests (largely focused on Medicare recipients)
- Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately. Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review.
- Avoid “look-alike” websites. Fake testing sites may require you to sign up online, so beware of fake sites that purposely look identical to those of well-known, trusted organizations or a state agency. Before entering personal information online, make sure that the website is secure and does not have misspellings or unfamiliar names in its URL.
- Fraudsters are also continuing to offer COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate.
- Fraudulent/Fake COVID-19 tests
- Scammers are selling fake and unauthorized at-home COVID-19 test kits in exchange for your personal or medical information. Make sure to purchase FDA approved COVID-19 test kits from legitimate providers.
According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – when it comes to insurance reimbursements:
“The test will either be free directly at the point of sale, if your health plan provides for direct coverage, or by reimbursement if you are charged for your test. Be sure to keep your receipt if you need to submit a claim to your insurance company for reimbursement. If your plan has set up a network of preferred providers at which you can obtain a test with no out-of-pocket expense, you can still obtain tests from other retailers outside that network. Insurance companies are required to reimburse you at a rate of up to $12 per individual test (or the cost of the test, if less than $12).”
How to Avoid Scams and Fraudulent Services
It is recommended by the FDA to have COVID-19 rapid antigen tests readily available. Avoid having to run to the store or a testing site when in need. The last thing many individuals want to do when they are experiencing fatigue and a fever is to leave the house.
Rapid Antigen at-home testing is a quick, easy, and accurate way to know your COVID status so you can continue living your life without worry.
While you are out enjoying life, including sporting events, concerts, school activities, and more – testing allows you and your family to continue the fun, while obtaining peace of mind.
Test with INDICAID® Rapid Antigen Test
- Approved for use of 2 years and up (Ages 2-14 to be administered by an adult)
- FDA EUA
- 93.4% overall accuracy
- Able to detect COVID-19 virus variants (incl. Delta & Omicron)
- HSA/FSA Eligible
- Insurance Eligible
- 12-month shelf-life