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    HomeTechFree at-home COVID tests ramp up, but many still struggle to find...

    Free at-home COVID tests ramp up, but many still struggle to find them

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    The COVIDTests.gov web site permits every family to order 4 free exams.


    Sarah Tew/CNET

    For probably the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

    The hassle to deliver widespread COVID-19 testing to all People picked up steam as health-care insurers started protecting the price of at-home exams and the federal authorities began taking orders for free at-home tests shipped by the Postal Service.

    On Wednesday, the White Home launched COVIDTests.gov, an internet site for People to order free at-home COVID check kits. Every family can request 4 COVID-19 exams, with orders anticipated to ship close to the top of the month by way of the US Postal Service. People may also order exams by way of hotline — 1-800-232-0233 — if they can not entry the web site. 

    “This program will be sure that People have at-home, fast COVID-19 exams out there within the weeks and months forward — along with the variety of different methods they will get examined,” the White House said. “The administration is shortly finishing a contracting course of for the unprecedented buy of 1 billion at-home, fast exams to distribute as a part of this program.”

    Additionally, as of Jan. 15, medical health insurance suppliers are actually required to cowl the price of eight at-home COVID exams per thirty days per particular person. Meaning a household of 5 can get 40 free exams per thirty days. Prospects could be reimbursed for COVID kits as much as $12 per check, or obtain free exams for gratis from collaborating in-network pharmacies.

    A number of state and native governments have additionally begun distributing free COVID exams to residents, however a scarcity of check kits and excessive demand have made it very troublesome for a lot of People to search out at-home exams. Learn on to study extra about at-home COVID-19 exams, together with the place you may get them now.

    For extra data on COVID-19, get the most recent on the best masks for COVID, choose the right booster shot and inform the distinction between COVID, the flu and a cold.

    How do I get free at-home COVID-19 exams?

    People can now request four free tests per family on-line at COVIDTests.gov. The US Postal Service will ship kits within the continental US by way of First-Class Package deal Service, beginning on the finish of January. Shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, US Territories and any army addresses will likely be despatched by way of Precedence Mail.

    In accordance to a White House statement, the kits will usually ship inside seven to 12 days of ordering.

    President Joe Biden introduced on Jan. 12 the federal government was doubling the variety of out there free exams to 1 billion, and offering 5 million PCR tests for free to colleges per thirty days.

    A number of states are already issuing free COVID-19 exams to residents, together with Colorado, Iowa, Connecticut, Washington, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Washington, DC, is making at-home exams out there for pickup at area libraries whereas different cities, corresponding to New York and Boston, are distributing them to native well being clinics. 

    Washington state launched its Say Yes! Covid Test website on Friday however was shortly overwhelmed. With 650,000 free exams available, the state stopped taking orders about six hours after launch with the message: “We have now had an amazing response to the initiative and have already exhausted the restricted provide out there for residence supply.”

    As of Saturday, nevertheless, Washington’s web site is presently once more accepting at-home COVID check package orders for all state residents.

    We’ll proceed to replace this checklist as extra states and cities announce free COVID exams.

    The place can I purchase at-home COVID-19 exams?

    At-home fast COVID-19 exams are often out there at pharmacies like Walgreens, Walmart and CVS, and by way of on-line retailers like Amazon. The White Home is permitting insurers to determine a roster of in-network pharmacies and to cap protection of kits purchased at out-of-network retailers. Verify along with your insurance coverage firm to see which shops are in your community.

    The rapid spread of the omicron variant has led to a check package scarcity and compelled retailers to position limits on what number of you should buy in lots of areas: Walgreens presently permits every buyer to buy a most of 4 at-home exams, whereas CVS units its restrict at six. Walmart caps on-line purchases to eight exams however has no restrict on in-store purchases.

    Speedy antigen at-home exams are out of inventory at many distributors proper now. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation the primary week of January discovered at-home COVID exams out there on-line solely 10% of the time.

    As of Jan. 22, the one out there fast exams on the Walgreens web site are single exams of Flowflex for $10 apiece. CVS has two exams out there on-line — Quidel Quickvue at $24 for 2 exams and Flowflex at $10 for a single check.

    Walmart’s web site has On/Go’s 10-minute self-test out there at $24 for 2 exams in addition to a pricier Ellume rapid test at $35 for one. Amazon presently has the BD Veritor rapid home test out there at $35 for 2 exams, in addition to a whopping 90-pack of iHealth test kits for $1,782 (about $20 per two exams). We’ll proceed to replace as availability adjustments.

    How do I get reimbursed for COVID check kits?

    As of Jan. 15, medical health insurance corporations are required to reimburse People for eight at-home antigen exams per particular person a month, underneath a plan announced by Biden. If a person has been directed to endure COVID-19 testing by their medical supplier due to underlying well being circumstances or different components, there is no such thing as a restrict on the variety of exams lined.

    Carriers can set up in-network pharmacies the place the price will likely be lined up entrance, and cap protection at out-of-network retailers at $12 per check.

    Although the Biden plan just isn’t retroactive, some states — including Vermont — required insurers to start out protecting at-home kits earlier. You might also need to examine along with your employer, as some non-public corporations additionally started providing reimbursement choices for at-home exams earlier than the Jan. 15 deadline.

    How you can get reimbursed for at-home COVID exams varies significantly amongst particular health-insurance corporations. Comply with the hyperlinks under for details about at-home COVID check reimbursement for the 5 US carriers with the biggest memberships.

    Do Medicare and Medicaid cowl at-home COVID check kits?

    Biden’s new guidelines on reimbursement for at-home COVID-19 exams do not presently apply to Medicaid and Medicare, though Bloomberg Government reports check package producers are lobbying to vary that.

    Individuals with Medicare — a free federal program for all People 65 and older — who even have non-public medical health insurance can obtain reimbursement from their insurer.

    State Medicaid and Youngsters’s Well being Insurance coverage Program, aka CHIP, applications are presently required to cowl FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 exams with out cost-sharing, according to HHS.

    What if I haven’t got medical health insurance?

    For these with out insurance coverage, Biden stated there will likely be “hundreds of areas” the place you’ll be able to choose up free COVID-19 check kits to make use of at residence in non-public, quite than get swabbed in a drive-thru clinic. It’s also possible to order your free exams from the COVIDTests.gov web site, although you are restricted to 4 per family.

    Those that do not have medical health insurance may also entry free kits at group well being clinics and different native websites. The Division of Well being and Human Companies provides a search tool for finding community-based testing sites for COVID-19.

    How a lot do at-home COVID-19 exams value?

    Speedy antigen exams are usually less expensive than residence assortment exams. Prices differ from model to model, however kits usually run about $10 to $25 apiece, with two exams per package.

    Each Walgreens and CVS are promoting Abbott’s BinaxNow and Quidel’s QuickVue exams — two of the primary licensed by the FDA — for $24 for a pack of two. Acon’s FlowFlex fast check is presently $10 for one check at each Walgreens and CVS. The On/Go package of two fast exams is presently promoting for $25 on Amazon and $30 on Walmart.

    Residence assortment exams, which require a nasal swab or saliva pattern to be despatched to a lab for evaluation, value far more than the fast antigen exams and require a for much longer ready interval to get outcomes. However the “molecular” exams are thought-about way more correct than antigen exams. CVS and Walgreens are promoting Labcorp’s Pixel home-collection check for $125.

    The intense scarcity of kits has led some to resell them on platforms like Craigslist, eBay, Fb, Instagram and even TikTok, usually at an inflated value and with fraudulent merchandise.

    “We have obtained experiences that unauthorized sellers are attempting to revenue from the pandemic by promoting COVID-19 exams on-line,” Washington Legal professional Common Karl Racine tweeted Jan 4. “Please beware and solely purchase exams by way of licensed retailers so you’ll be able to make sure the integrity of your check.”

    Fb’s father or mother firm, Meta, advised CNN Business it prohibits the sale of check kits on any of its platforms.

    Ought to I exploit a fast at-home check or get a PCR check?

    The 2 essential kinds of COVID-19 exams are fast antigen exams and polymerase chain response (PCR) exams. Antigen exams could be taken at residence and return leads to about 10 to fifteen minutes. PCR exams are extra correct however require lab work and customarily do not present outcomes for not less than 12 hours and even as much as 5 days.

    Each exams usually use nasal swab samples, although some gather saliva. PCR exams administered by knowledgeable might require a nasopharyngeal pattern that entails a a lot deeper nostril swab. Speedy antigen exams often require swirling a swab within the nostril lower than an inch deep.

    PCR exams amplify genetic materials from the collected pattern as much as a billion instances to detect even the slightest quantity of COVID-19 genes, making them extremely correct. They’re additionally costlier, often costing greater than $100 apiece.

    Speedy antigen exams merely detect the presence of COVID-19 antigens — the substances that immediate your immune system to create antibodies — and work very like residence being pregnant exams. In case your pattern accommodates COVID-19 antigens, the skinny line of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies on the check strip will change coloration.

    As a result of fast exams are merely on the lookout for the existence of antigens, they work greatest when somebody is symptomatic. Speedy antigen exams are much less profitable with early infections and asymptomatic instances. The danger of a false damaging is far larger with a fast check than a false constructive.

    The kind of check you select will largely rely in your scenario. Do you want outcomes proper now, and are keen to threat much less accuracy? Then fast antigen suits the invoice. If you need nearer to 100% accuracy and do not want instantaneous outcomes, the “gold customary” PCR is your best option.


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    What if I test positive for COVID-19 using an at-home test?

    If you take an at-home test and it’s positive for COVID-19, it’s recommended that you share the results with your medical provider and local health department. Methods of reporting self-tests to health departments vary wildly, though: Some have online forms, others require email and still others use phone reporting. Check your local health department website for specific info on how to report a positive result.

    After receiving a positive test result, you should isolate for at least five days, and longer if you’re symptomatic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though the risk of false positives from rapid tests is low, most medical experts and health officials still recommend confirming a positive at-home test with a subsequent PCR test.

    For more information, here’s the latest on the federal vaccine mandate and everything you need to know about the Moderna booster shot.

    The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.



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