You can now order four free at-home COVID tests from the federal government, regardless of whether you have health insurance. A new website, covidtests.gov, went live on Tuesday, Jan. 18, one day ahead of schedule.
The website allows every home in the U.S. to order four free rapid antigen tests that deliver results in 30 minutes. PCR tests aren’t available. Tests are expected to ship within seven to 12 days, according to the website.
How to Get 4 Free COVID Tests
Signing up for your free tests is incredibly simple. All you need to do is go to covidtests.gov and provide your name and address, plus an email address if you want shipping notifications. And that’s it.
The U.S. Postal Service will deliver the tests. Currently, the website limits you to four free tests for each residential address, no matter how many household members you have.
Technically as of Tuesday, the website was in beta mode, which means it’s being tested for possible hiccups. Though there have been concerns that the website could crash upon launch due to high demand for tests, the site appeared to be functioning early Tuesday afternoon. A staff writer for Codetic placed an order for testing kits without issue.
What About the 8 Free Tests Insurers Have to Provide?
As of Jan. 15, health insurance companies are required to pay for eight home tests per month for each person covered by the plan. However, many people are still finding that they need to pay out of pocket for the tests and submit a receipt for reimbursement.
You can access four free tests for your household using the federal government’s website regardless of whether you have health insurance. The website doesn’t ask for insurance information, and no upfront payment is required. For now, the four free tests are a one-time only offer.
What if I Can’t Wait for My Test?
The earliest you can expect to receive your test through the federal website is late January. If you need a test before then and you have private insurance, you can pay for a home test and then get reimbursed for any upfront payment. The challenge, of course, is finding a home testing kit.
You can also access free and low-cost tests through a community testing center. To find a site, use HHS.gov’s testing center locator.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at Codetic. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]