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Originally Published: Jan 14, 2022
Originally Published: Jan 14, 2022 Last Updated: Jan 18, 2022 15 min read
Hands Holding At Home Covid Test
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Starting Saturday, Jan. 15, you can get certain at-home coronavirus tests for free — or get reimbursed if you pay upfront — so long as you have private health insurance. And as of Tuesday, Jan. 18, regardless of your insurance status, you will be able to order free at-home COVID-19 tests to be delivered directly to your doorstep.

President Joe Biden unveiled the new at-home testing programs in early December as part of his administration’s winter COVID-19 agenda, but the White House was tight-lipped about the details for more than a month.

The Biden administration recently filled in some of the blanks. On Monday, Jan. 10, the White House outlined specifics about a new federal program that requires private health insurance companies to cover at-home coronavirus testing kits.

Later in the week, the White House shared a timeline for the release of a new government website that you can use to order free tests. On Friday, the White House said via Twitter that Wednesday, Jan. 19, would be the first day people can begin order free at-home COVID-19 tests through a new website, covidtests.gov. Shipping will take 7 to 12 days, via the postal service.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, you can begin ordering free COVID-19 tests for delivery from the U.S. Postal Service. Read more about it in our updated story here.

Here’s what you need to know about the two new testing programs.

How to get free at-home COVID-19 tests through your health insurance

Health insurance companies will be required to pay for certain at-home coronavirus tests, either by covering them upfront at no cost to you or by reimbursing the eligible tests that you paid for out-of-pocket.

“Beginning January 15, 2022, individuals covered by a health insurance plan who purchase an FDA-approved, over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test will be able to have those tests covered by their insurance,” the White House tweeted.

Following the White House’s announcement, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released additional details.

“Testing is critically important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as to quickly diagnose COVID-19 so that it can be effectively treated. Today’s action further removes financial barriers and expands access to COVID-19 tests for millions of people,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement Monday.

While this program was developed to make testing easier and more affordable amid the surging winter case counts, not all tests are covered and not everyone is eligible for the program.

Know these five key points to ensure your at-home COVID-19 tests are covered.

You must have private health insurance.

Perhaps the largest qualifier to get your at-home tests for free — or at least get it reimbursed — is private health insurance.