If you want to order more free COVID-19 tests from the government, this is your last week.
Starting in January, every American household became eligible to receive up to 16 free COVID-19 tests by mail in three separate rounds of orders. (The latest round opened up in May.) Now, the program is ending because it's run out of money.
“Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2 because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests,” the COVID.gov website reads.
The White House said the program will resume if Congress approves additional funding. But until then, the administration has decided to hold back the additional tests in its stockpile for a potential surge in coronavirus cases later this year.
The cost of COVID-19 testing can vary widely: A 2020 analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy nonprofit, found that costs ranged from $20 to $850 depending on the type of test and where it was processed. While the federal government requires the cost of the tests themselves to be covered by private insurers (more on that below), it's still possible for patients to get hit with a bill— especially in a hospital setting or if they received a test from an out-of-network provider.
How to order free COVID-19 tests before the deadline
If you haven’t yet gotten your three orders of 16 tests total, you can still order your free tests through the federal program through Friday. You’ll just need your name and address, and you can opt in to receive tracking information via email.
The tests are at-home rapid antigen tests; they will arrive via the U.S. Postal Service.
If you need to find a free test after the program ends and you have private insurance, you’ll be able to do so. Private insurers are required to cover eight COVID-19 tests per person, per month. If you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B or Medicaid, eight tests per month are also covered.
If you don’t have health insurance, many community health sites across the country are still offering free testing. Use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website to search for free and low-cost testing centers by state.