Where and How to Get an At-Home COVID-19 Test Right Now
Whether you can't find a testing site or don't want to risk going out, here's what you need to know.
With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, especially in major cities, standing in line to get tested in person can mean three-hour-long waits in the cold, or scrambling to find an available slot at a local hospital or pharmacy. The omicron variant is spreading quickly, and the World Health Organization has advised that holiday gatherings should be delayed or canceled due to the high risk of exposure.
If you're already symptomatic or are simply worried about coming into close contact with others, an alternative to getting tested in person is swabbing yourself at home with an FDA-approved COVID test kit. However, like most things related to the ongoing pandemic, getting an at-home test from the store can be quite challenging. Nonetheless, there are still a few ways to get COVID-19 tests right now, and even get them delivered to your door.
Here's what you need to know.
What home test options are available right now?
Labcorp can send up to five kits directly to your home, but the cost varies depending on your symptoms. If you are symptomatic and fill out a short survey you can get an at-home test for $0 upfront, but the cost of the test will later be billed to your insurance. There is federal funding available to pay for the tests of uninsured people, but you'll need to check your eligibility beforehand. If you are able to pay upfront, you can purchase up to five at-home tests for $119 each. There's a one- to two-day processing time after your swab is delivered to the lab, which will be mailed via FedEx. These tests are HSA and FSA eligible.
Cost: $0 upfront or $119 per test
Time for Results: 24 to 48 hours after lab receives test
BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit
The BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit is available for $35 from EverlyWell and $32.95 from Amazon. The test is approved by the FDA and gets you test results in 15 minutes, sent straight to your smartphone. These tests are HSA and FSA eligible. Amazon currently has an estimated delivery window of December 23 to January 4, depending on what you want to pay for shipping. Amazon has other tests listed on its site, with varying availability and pricing. Before purchasing any test, make sure it is FDA approved using this comprehensive list.
Cost: $32.95 - $35
Time for Results: 15 minutes
Depending on your location, Sick.org will drop off and pick up a COVID-19 test at your doorstep. One reviewer called it "like Uber but for COVID testing." After you register, a delivery driver will drop the test off at your door. Once you take the test, a driver will come back and take your test to a lab. Results typically come back in one to two days. Sick.org will bring the tests regardless of your insurance status. Total out-of-pocket costs aren't listed on the site, however.
Cost: Says free on website, other costs not stated (Thrillist has reached out for clarification)
Time for Results: 24 to 48 hours
Intrivo Diagnostics On/Go COVID-19 At-Home Test
These tests can be purchased at multiple retailers. At the time of writing, Walmart had the tests in stock for $29.99. This test provides results in 10 minutes, and each box includes two tests, which have a 95% accuracy rate. You can also purchase tests directly from the On/Go site for $29.99.
Time for Results: 10 minutes
iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
This is one of the cheapest tests available. The kit is $14.99 for two tests. The tests are mailed via ground shipping, so it takes an average of four to seven days to receive them. However, you'll get your results in 15 minutes. You can also purchase this kit directly from the iHealth website. The test includes access to an app that will store your results.
Time for Results: 15 minutes
This is a CDC-approved at-home test for travel. The Points Guy reports that you can order six of these tests through eMed for $150. If you don't need as many, you can get one to three tests from Optum. One test is $50, two are $70, and three tests will set you back $100. Walgreen sells them for $24, though they were out of stock for shipping at the time of writing. These tests are also HSA and FSA eligible.
Cost: $24 to $50 per test
PCR: No (but approved for travel)
Time for Results: 15 minutes
Will the government reimburse me for at-home COVID-19 tests?
Starting January 15, insured Americans should be able to get fully reimbursed for at-home COVID-19 tests, per a plan outlined by the Biden administration in early December. Unfortunately, that excludes people who are insured by Medicaid and Medicare.
Reimbursements will only be available for tests bought after January 15. That means tests purchased between now and then will not be eligible for reimbursement. Make sure to keep receipts on file for these purchases.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a plan to distribute 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests starting in January. The tests will be available to the public for free through a government website that will be launched in January, according to ABC News. Through the site, people will be able to request tests that will be delivered via mail directly to their homes. Additional details on how the program will work have yet to be announced.
Where are in-person testing sites in each state?
If you are willing to head out for a test, the US Department of Health and Human Services has a comprehensive database of community-based COVID-19 testing centers, sorted by state. Nationally, CVS Health, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart (working withQuest Diagnostics) have free in-person testing locations, regardless of your health insurance status. You can schedule appointments through their websites or by calling.
There is also a state-by-state breakdown of testing options at health centers that have popped up in response to COVID-19.
Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.