Feds Will Ship Free Covid Tests to Individual Households Beginning Wednesday

Starting Saturday, new federal rules will require private insurers to cover the at-home coronavirus tests that Americans buy in pharmacies and other stores. The new system could, in theory, allow millions of consumers to pick up tests at thousands of locations without spending any money.

Then on Wednesday, Jan. 19, people can order tests directly, online at COVIDTests.gov.

Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that Americans use at-home tests if they begin to have symptoms, at least five days after coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated. Federal health officials say testing is an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

To help ensure Americans have tests on hand if a need arises, the Biden Administration is purchasing one billion at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests to give to Americans for free. A half-billion tests will be available for order Jan.19 and will be mailed directly to American households.

There will be no charge for the initial tests,and to promote broad access, the initial program will allow four free tests to be requested per residential address. Americans will be able to order their tests online at COVIDTests.gov, and tests will typically ship through the U.S. Postal Service as first-class mail within 7-12 days of ordering.

To ensure equity and access for all Americans, the Administration will also launch a call line to help those unable to access the website to place orders, and work with national and local community-based organizations to support the nation’s hardest-hit and highest-risk communities in requesting tests.

The administration is also setting up a hotline where people can request the free tests be mailed to them, but the number was not immediately available Friday.

This program will ensure that Americans have at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available in the weeks and months ahead—in addition to the number of other ways they can get tested.

The Department of Defense, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, has already awarded several of the contracts that will result from this process—with over 420 million tests already under contract. Given the high volume of tests being procured and the diversity of manufacturers, additional contracts will continue to be awarded over the coming weeks.

The Biden Administration continues acting aggressively to further increase equitable access to free COVID-19 testing for all Americans, as testing needs arise. This includes:

  • Requiring health insurers to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests starting Jan.15: Private insurance companies will be required to cover at-home COVID-19 tests. This means consumers with private health insurance coverage will be able to get these tests for free. Insurance companies and health plans are required to cover eight free at-home tests per covered individual per month. That means a family of four, all on the same plan, would be able to get 32 of these tests covered by their health plan per month. As part of the requirement, the Administration is strongly incentivizing plans and insurers to allow people to get these tests directly through preferred pharmacies or retailers with no out-of-pocket costs, with the plan or insurer covering the cost upfront, eliminating the need for people to submit reimbursement claims.
  • Making 10 million more tests available to schools nationwide each month: This includes increasing the number of COVID-19 tests available to schools by 10 million per month to help schools safely remain open and implement screening testing and test-to-stay programs—which will allow schools to double the volume of testing they were performing in November 2021—and supporting free testing access for students, school staff, and families through federal testing sites.

The Biden Administration has already expanded school testing, including providing states $10 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to support COVID-19 screening testing for teachers, staff, and students and $130 billion in American Rescue Plan funding that schools can use on COVID-19 testing. In addition to these resources, at the President’s direction, FEMA has been providing states, Tribes, and territories 100 percent federal reimbursement to support COVID-19 testing, including at schools. There was no federal support for testing in schools prior to the start of the Administration.

Starting last February, the Administration has used the Defense Production Act, industrial mobilization and advance purchase commitments to ramp up supply of testing, including at-home, rapid tests. This includes $3 billion in advance purchase commitments this Fall, which allowed domestic testing manufacturers to increase production, add factory lines, increase staffing, and move up manufacturing timelines.

As a result, the U.S. went from 24 million at-home, rapid tests on the market in August, to 46 million in October, to 100 million in November, to over 300 million in December, to 375 million in January. This is on top of the work the Administration has done to increase capacity for lab-based COVID-19 testing; the U.S. is now conducting more lab-based tests per capita than many peer countries, including Germany, Canada, and Japan.

The new round of tests won’t be subject to copays or deductibles.

Insurers may set up a network of preferred stores, pharmacies and online retailers where consumers can receive tests at no cost up front. People could still buy tests outside that network, but insurers would only have to reimburse up to $12 for each one.

Consumers should contact their insurers to find out if they provide direct coverage or if claims must be submitted.

Insurers must pay for up to eight tests per covered individual per month. So a family of four could get 32 tests each month. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, already cover home tests with no cost-sharing.The uninsured can get free home tests from certain community health centers. They

can also request tests through the federal program once it becomes available.

The reality, at least in the short term, is likely to be messier: Some insurers say it will probably take weeks to fully set up the system the White House envisions.

The new process will be hard, the insurers say, because over-the-counter coronavirus tests are different from the doctor’s visits and hospital stays they typically cover.

The tests do not currently have the type of billing codes that insurers use to process claims. Health plans rarely process retail receipts; instead they’ve built systems for digital claims with preset formats and long-established billing codes.

Because of this, some insurers plan to manage the rapid test claims manually at the start.

Some local governments in the United States have invested heavily in rapid testing to counter the latest wave of cases. Washington, D.C., which has experienced a substantial surge in virus cases, now allows residents to pick up four free rapid tests daily at libraries across the city.

The new rules require private insurers to cover eight at-home coronavirus tests for each person, every month. The rules will not apply retroactively to at-home tests that Americans have already purchased, and do not cover patients with public insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid.

As the Omicron surge causes case counts to reach record highs and hospitalizations to surpass last winter’s peak, here’s how to think about the data and what the early numbers suggest about the variant’s potential toll and possible peaking in parts of the United States.

Vaccine mandates. The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers, but the justices allowed a more modest mandate requiring health care workers at facilities receiving federal money to be vaccinated.

The U.S. Covid response. President Biden announced that the U.S. government will buy 500 million more tests for distribution to Americans, doubling its previous purchase. He also said he will deploy military personnel to help overwhelmed hospitals in six states and pledged to provide free high-quality masks.

Worried about spreading Covid? Keep yourself and others safe by following some basic guidance on when to test and how to use at-home virus tests (if you can find them). Here is what to do if you test positive for the coronavirus.

Even as insurers sort out systems for processing claims, they noted one major factor will remain out of their control: testing supply, and the shortages that consumers have confronted in recent weeks.

The New York Times, the White House and CNN contributed to this story.

20 Comments

  1. SJI is a little goofy… they deleted william’s comment but they allow ONLINE Casino, pornhub and other advertising Spam in the comments on other articles.

  2. Not Him,

    CLEARLY OFF TOPIC HERE, LIKE THE PIZZARIA STORY PUSHERS THAT GOT SOMEONE KILLED!!!

    WHERE ARE THE MODERATORS HERE?

  3. Epstein did not kill himself

    and the spiking of the Maxwell trial should shame all journalists

    normalisation is a process

    shame on sji for censorship

  4. And once we have self-tests that can’t discern the difference between the flu and covid, how does that help us again? Even if the test could determine that we actually had covid vs. the flu how does that help us? How absurd this all is.

  5. JOE SMITH, LABCORPS TESTS HAVE TWO TESTS THAT ARE SEPARATE, ONE FOR COVID AND THE OTHER FOR THE FLU. Where are you getting your information? They have totally different tests, thus you claim that the tests cannot separate them is FALSE

  6. This will be a boon for all the entrepreneurs that will “pop-up” with a fully funded test kit inventory for sale on local internet marketplaces.

  7. counting cases in an endemic is like giving us daily updates on how many gallons you’ve counted in the ocean, but in a counterproductive way

    you will get omicron, the question is how ready you are

    two jabs, vitamin D, zinc, mag, not fat, not diabetic

    if you got a comorbidity, fix it, if you can’t you’ll have to deal with a very rough two weeks

    but glued to CNN for two years stressing out over fear porn and growing broke waiting for Newsom to save you is no way to live

  8. Not Him,

    Simply put are you a medical doctor? Are you a medical researcher? Are you qualified to discuss public health? NO YOU ARE NOT! You are a FAKE person, using a FAKE name posting nothing but complaints and personal insults because you HAVE NO CONTROL over COVID. The facts are that you are delusional if you think we have reached the ENDEMIC stage yet. IT HAS NOT! Again stick to the facts. The New York Times indicates that on Jan 14 we had 5,000 new cases,in Santa Clara County, but so far the SCC has not provided any updates due to the MLK weekend.

  9. Man, that’s all really terrifying GOLDY. Do we quadruple mask now? Or is there something even more absurd that the medical directors want us to do? Your bosses probably don’t know this, but all the catastrophizing and fear mongering is going away in earnest. We have elections coming up. You’ve become so 2020 or 2021.

  10. STICK TO THE TOPIC!!!

    With regards to the state, as of 01/18/2022 there was 829,489 cases total NEW CASES for the week starting 1/11/2022 all variants. As for the month the total cases come to 1,625,131.

    If we add the current amount to the MTD moving average we can expect to have 3,345,858 cases and out of 39,500,000 that is 8.4% or the odd of infection are 1 out of 11,

    And if only 5% of that need medical care than we need 167,292 patients and if only 10% of that require ICU than we should get 16,730 ICU patients. The State has only 1,497 beds available which means 15,232 patients will be out of luck.

    AND MOST HERE JUST SAY TO LET THE PEOPLE OF CALIFORNIA JUMP INTO THE COVID SHARK TANK AND HOPE THE SHARKS DO NOT KILL OR MAME YOU? THIS IS NOT A PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY IT IS A CRUEL METHOD OF ABUSING THE PEOPLE OF CALIFORNIA.

    AGAIN, ARE WE SAFE?

  11. STICK TO THE SUBJECT:

    SCC NEW UPDATE: As of 01/19/2022 there was 24,442 cases total NEW CASES for the week starting 1/12/2022 all variants in Santa Clara County.

    Which means that for the month we have had 3,810 cases a day and if we add the existing 68,583 to the daily average times 13 we are likely to have 118,115 cases for the month of January. As for the month the total cases come to 68,583 and in comparison, to the entire month of December 2021 which had 18,163 cases we have about 3.8 TIMES more cases then the entire month of December.

    Now given that maybe only 5% need hospitals, that would come to 5,906 hospital bed demand and if only 10% of that needed ICU than we would have 590 new ICU bed cases, but we have only 66 Beds in Santa Clara County which means 525 people are out of luck. And as far as the region goes there are only 296 which means for Santa Clara County alone the region is short 229 people.

  12. Ca Patriot

    Unfortuantly that report was not based on a PEER REVIEWED research, but opinons from a particualar doctor. However there is a published article titled “Waning Immunity after the BNT162b2 Vaccine in Israel”

    In fact you cited an article from a PRIVATE MEDICAL PRACTICE called Yale Medicine. Which HAS NOT BEEN PEER REVIEWED OR PUBISHED, only posted on their website. In fact you OMITTED that the report discusses DELTA variant and only breifly mentions Omicron, but in the term they used is HYPERLOCAL outbreaks. I am certain that term was not one they wanted to use. The same goes with Dr Marty Makaray whose articles are defined as opinions and not research. He posts on Medpage Today, which is not a medical journal. It is not peer reviewed, but a private publication, an LLC that practices no medicine at all.

    Be careful who you listen to, because you keep getting information that is not validated or certified on this website constantly

  13. STICK TO THE SUBJECT:

    SCC NEW UPDATE: As of 01/20/2022 there was 22,812 cases total NEW CASES for the week starting 1/12/2022 all variants in Santa Clara County.

    Which means that for the month we have had 3,778 cases a day and if we add the existing 71,785 to the daily average times 12 we are likely to have 117,122 cases for the month of January. As for the month the total cases come to 71,785 and in comparison, to the entire month of December 2021 which had 18,163 cases we have about 4 TIMES more cases then the entire month of December.

    Now given that maybe only 5% need hospitals, that would come to 5,857 hospital bed demand and if only 10% of that needed ICU than we would have 586 new ICU bed cases, but we have only 44 Beds in Santa Clara County which means 542 people are out of luck. And as far as the region goes there are only 228 which means for Santa Clara County alone the region is short 313 people.

  14. STICK TO THE SUBJECT:

    With regards to the state, as of 01/20/2022 there was 767,5291 cases total NEW CASES for the week starting 1/13/2022 all variants. As for the month the total cases come to 1,808,745. If we add the current amount to the MTD moving average we can expect to have 2,951,110 cases and out of 39,500,000 that is 7.5% or the odd of infection are 1 out of 12, and if only 5% of that need medical care than we need 147,555 patients and if only 10% of that require ICU than we should get 14,755 ICU patients. The State has only 1,338 beds available which means 13,418 patients will be out of luck.

    AND MOST HERE JUST SAY TO LET THE PEOPLE OF CALIFORNIA JUMP INTO THE COVID SHARK TANK AND HOPE THE SHARKS DO NOT KILL OR MAME YOU? THIS IS NOT A PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY IT IS A CRUEL METHOD OF ABUSING THE PEOPLE OF CALIFORNIA.

    AGAIN, ARE WE SAFE?

  15. CA, NY = Permanent Pandemic Panic Pushers…
    ..
    Driving some Folks to Fabricating Fear-Mongering.
    ..
    Despite Fanatical Finger Factoring – ICU bed usage for COVID averages 33%.
    ..
    ————— Freedom Vs Oppression… ——————
    ..
    States ranked by ICU Bed use for COVID-19 (all mutations):
    Jan. 19, 2022
    ICU beds in use % / ICU beds used for COVID-19 %:
    FLORIDA: ICU beds in use: 83.6% / ICU beds in use for COVID: 24%
    VIRGINIA: ICU beds in use: 73.7% / ICU beds in use for COVID: 34%
    CAlifornia: ICU beds in use: 82.1% / ICU beds in use for COVID: 31%
    NY State: ICU beds in use: 80.5% / ICU beds in use for COVID: 35%
    Wash DC: ICU beds in use: 83.1% / ICU beds in use for COVID: 35%
    ..
    CA & NY are the most Locked-Down & Mandated states in the nation.
    Washington DC as a “Most Locked-Down” region.
    VA becomes a “FREE” State – Free Choice – No Student Mask Mandates.
    ..

    ………………..UK Announces FREEDOM for Citizens…………………….

    — “Boris Johnson: COVID-19 Restrictions will be Relaxed Next Week” (19Jan2022) —

    Johnson addressed Parliament, announcing that measures such as
    mandated public Mask-Wearing,
    COVID-19 Passports, and
    Enforced Self-Isolation, ….
    will be shifted from compulsory edicts to Optional Guidelines.

    “His statements were met with Roaring Cheers by Members of Parliament.”

  16. Ca Patriot,

    You have still yet to discuss the virus, instead you have used this forum to write about information that does not PROVE that we are any safer. As we have seen as many as 5 times during the pandemic whenever there is a relaxation of safety policies designed to reduce infection, another wave of new infections, and worse new variants, has happened. So we are going to play that song again? And if you read that carefully it only states that it is going to be optional, and given that so far there is not change in the danger of covid, most optional safety rules will likely be continued.

  17. CA, NY = Permanent Pandemic Panic Pushers…
    ..
    Driving some Folks to Unbalanced Fear-Mongering.
    ..
    ————— Freedom Vs Oppression… ——————
    ..
    States ranked by COVID-19 death rates:
    Jan. 21, 2022
    Avg Daily COVID Deaths & COVID Deaths per 100,000 over the last 7 days:
    FLORIDA: Deaths per 100K: 0.32 / Daily avg deaths: 69.7
    VIRGINIA: Deaths per 100K: 0.11 / Daily avg deaths: 9.7
    TEXAS: Deaths per 100K: 0.38 / Daily avg deaths: 110.6
    CAlifornia: Deaths per 100K: 0.25 / Daily avg deaths: 98.6
    NY State: Deaths per 100K: 1.06 / Daily avg deaths: 206.1
    Wash DC: Deaths per 100K: 0.38 / Daily avg deaths: 2.7
    ..
    CA & NY are the Most Locked-Down & Mandated states in the nation.
    Washington DC as a “Most Locked-Down” region.
    ..
    VA becomes a “FREE” State – Free Choice – No Student Mask Mandates.
    ..
    ————————————————
    Cold-Like Omicron..~ 95% of all detected cases now…
    CDC Walensky – Study Shows:
    “Omicron variant of COVID-19 has a Lower Risk of severe illness & death compared with the Delta variant.”
    ..
    ————————-

    — “VA Gov Promises Choices, NOT Mandates, with New VA COVID Plan” (20Jan2022) —

    guided by “Science & Common-Sense.”
    ..
    empowering Virginians with Choices, not Mandates,” Youngkin said.

    The newly sworn-in Gov also directed the state health commissioner to implement new guidelines for when COVID-19 tests are used.

    “The Governor will discourage mass testing for the purposes of pre-screening,
    discourage asymptomatic individuals from testing,
    and urge healthy individuals with mild symptoms to stay home and
    use discretion on testing,”

    — “Virginia universities Lift Vaccine Mandates after Gov’s order” (20Jan) —

    “…reversed a previously announced directive from Jan. 14 asking
    VCU staff and students eligible for a booster to report receiving one by Feb. 1 or within 30 days of becoming eligible.”

  18. Ca Patriot,

    To use the words you quoted correctly it said:

    “discourage asymptomatic individuals from testing,” which means we are going to have less data and less contact tracing, thus even more transmission of any variant of COVID. Does that make any sense? you also said:

    “and urge healthy individuals with mild symptoms to stay home and use discretion on testing,” which means this approach is simply designed to manipulate the data to ARTIFICIALLY reduce the numbers. BUT IT WILL IN FACT ACCELERATE INFECTION. And you know it.

    A preliminary report I saw from the New Yourk Times indicates we had 8,000 new cases yesterday, I suspect it is delay due to the SCC as to when it will update

    Your comments are not going to improve the situation, your just trying to distract from THE REAL PROBLEM, the world is losing Word War Covid because it will outpace politics and business every time!!!

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