It’s not an epidemic. Above. No matter how small your social circle is, it still is. so true It is possible to spread and spread Covid-19. Regular screening (along with vaccinations and wearing an N95 face mask) is important to help prevent this. There are free testing sites across the US, but the timed ones can provide results in 15 minutes or more, bypassing long lines for rapid at-home Covid tests.
With hundreds of options, it’s hard to know which one to buy (if they’re in stock). We’ve rounded up options to make the search easier—based on FDA approval and availability. You can order free home tests from the US government. Our team members have used some but not all of these tests.
Updated March 2023: We have added the Cordix Covid-19 Antigen Home Test and the Pilot Covid-19 Home Test. We have included detailed information regarding the end and expiration date of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
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Last year, the Biden administration launched several rounds of rapid indoor tests to be rolled out across the US. Here Our guide to ordering free rapid covid-19 tests. You will receive four rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 with each order.
In the year Beginning January 15, 2022, insurance companies (individual and group health plans) must cover eight FDA-approved prescriptions for Covid-19 per person per month. There are no restrictions if the test is ordered by a health care provider after a clinical evaluation (including those needed for an underlying medical condition).
Depending on the network of selected pharmacies and retailers, you can order a test online or pick it up in person for free. If your insurance plan doesn’t offer a preferred network, you can submit your claim with your receipt to get your out-of-pocket amount reimbursed. Order a test outside of your network and you may be charged up to $12 per test. Do you have a variable spending account or health savings account? You can choose to use one to purchase rapid at-home Covid test kits.
In early February, the Biden administration announced that it would end the national and public health emergency surrounding Covid-19 on May 11, 2023. This means that unannounced Covid tests are not covered by private insurance companies (including Medicare). However, private insurance companies may choose to cover the costs voluntarily, so it’s worth getting your insurance. Those on Medicaid will continue to be fully covered until September 30, 2024, at which point coverage will vary by state.
In the meantime, we highly recommend that you stock up on your eight free monthly in-home Covid tests if they are covered by insurance (as described in the section above). And, if you haven’t already, be sure to request your four free at-home tests from the US government.
We love rapid home covid-19 tests.
Abbott’s BinaxNow kit provides results within 15 minutes of rinsing your nose and inserting the sample into the included test card. You can use Navika, the companion app, to report the results yourself. Those who test negative will receive a temporary encrypted digital pass that they can use for official verification of their test results. By doing two tests in each box, the company recommends taking another one 24 hours before but no later than 48 hours. A few members of the Gear team used this test. Although we can’t vouch for its level of accuracy, it was easy to use with clear instructions.
As with almost all other testing tools, with FlowFlex you only get one test per box. But unlike the others, the FDA is confident enough about this one that it doesn’t recommend testing yourself again after a few days — unless you feel new symptoms coming on. The procedure is the same: wash your nose, dip the fold in the solution and press a few drops on a small plastic test card. After 15 to 30 minutes, your results will be visible. This test comes in a very compact box and is easier to open and use than some other tests we’ve tested.
Warning: If you’re shopping for FlowFlex, make sure it comes in a white box. In January 2022 FDA recalled Counterfeit version of Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test not approved for sale in the US. (It comes in a dark blue box.) Be sure to look for the FlowFlex Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test in the white box. The FDA also issued a warning about another counterfeit version circulating in April 2022. You can find the exact signs to look for. over here.
With the QuickVue at-home test, all you need to do is wiggle both nostrils, swirl the swab in the pre-filled tube of solution, and soak the test strip for 10 minutes. If the result is positive, both a blue line and a pink line will appear on the plate. If it is negative, you will only see a blue line. This kit comes with two tests, so you can take another one in three days. I used this test – it’s easy to administer and understand.
The On/Go home appliance comes with a connected app that helps guide you through the process. Once you’ve created a label, you’ll use the test cassette, extraction bottle, vial cap, and nose tip included in the box to collect your sample. After 10 minutes, you’ll be prompted to upload a photo of your result and the app will confirm whether it’s positive, negative, or false (you can try again at this point.) This was the easiest to use of the quick at-home tests I’ve ever tried. The steps are so simple that I’m not reaching for the instructions every time – something I can’t say for others. The standard version has two tests in one box, but you can buy a pack for $9.
The iHealth Covid-19 kit comes with a nasal swab, solution and a test card. After collecting your sample and soaking it in the solution, add three drops to the test card. Within 15 minutes, the result will appear on the card, and then you can upload it to the companion app. If you test negative, you’ll get access to the iHealth Pass to use as digital proof. The Covid-19 test card in the foil bag should be used within one hour of opening.
Warning: In May 2022 The FDA issued Warning of Counterfeit Versions of iHealth Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kits Not Approved for Sale in the US. The instructions for use included with some counterfeit versions have images on the leaflet slightly different from the actual version. Both iHealth and the FDA are in the process of finding additional identified indications. People who live in South Carolina and have purchased an iHealth Covid-19 test should double check the lottery number on their kit. In November, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control determined that a limited number of home tests “may have invalid result cartridges due to a manufacturing error.” You can read more over here.