(CNN) — Starting Saturday, many Americans can get free COVID-19 tests at home through their private insurance. You can get home tests at pharmacies, retailers, and online vendors.
The program is part of the Biden administration’s effort to increase access to testing in the U.S. It will also distribute free home tests, with more information on how to order them next week.
Here’s what you need to know about getting free home tests from retailers:
How does this work?
Most Americans with private insurance can purchase home tests online or in stores and pay for them at the time of purchase or receive a refund by submitting a claim to their insurer. So make sure you save your receipts.
The tests will not be subject to copays or deductibles.
Insurers can establish 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 of 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 should be filed.
Do I need a prescription or order?
No, you do not have to visit a doctor to get free trials.
How many home tests can I get?
Insurers must pay for up to eight tests per covered person per month. So a family of four could have 32 tests every month, for example.
What about all the tests I bought before Saturday? Can you reimburse me for them?
We’re sorry, but only tests purchased from January 15th will qualify.
Where can I find a home test?
Finding home tests is proving challenging in many parts of the country, even as retailers limit the number a customer can buy.
It’s one of the reasons the Biden administration plans to distribute free home tests soon. President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he would double the number that will be available to one billion tests.
Several states have also mandated that home tests be distributed free to residents, but supplies have been limited.
How do I get one of those free federal tests?
The administration is creating a website and hotline where people can request to have free trials mailed to them. More information should be available next week, Biden said.
What if I am on Medicare?
Medicare covers COVID-19 tests performed in a laboratory when ordered by a medical professional at no charge.
Those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans should check with their insurers to see if the costs of home testing will be covered.
What if I am on Medicaid?
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, already cover home testing with no cost sharing.
But members should contact their state agencies for specific coverage details.
What if I don’t have insurance?
People without insurance can get free home tests at certain community health centers. They can also request testing through the federal program once it is available.
In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services is providing up to 50 million free home tests to community health centers and Medicare-certified health clinics for distribution to patients and the community.
The Department of Health and Human Services has also established more than 10,000 free community pharmacy testing sites across the country.
Additional information about testing for the uninsured is available at hhs.gov.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism