TAMPA, Fla. — As COVID case counts from the omicron variant continue to surge, the demand for at-home tests seems to be higher than ever.
Now, the White House has announced that on Jan. 19th, there will be free tests available from the federal government.
And, starting Saturday, you should also be able to get free tests if you have a private insurance provider.
The White House says they are requiring private health care companies to provide 8 free at-home kits each month for every insured person on the plan.
But how do you get your tests?
The White House says they are incentivizing the insurance companies to allow you to get the tests straight from preferred pharmacies or stores with no out-of-pocket cost.
But that’s not guaranteed, and you may have to request reimbursement.
We reached out to some major providers that included Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, United Healthcare, Molina Healthcare, Humana, and Cigna to find out more about their plans to make the tests available.
Those requests for comment were made the day before the free tests were supposed to become available, and only two companies responded.
Blue Cross Blue Shield sent a statement saying:
We received updated guidance from the federal government regarding at-home COVID-19 testing coverage late Monday afternoon. Since then, Florida Blue has worked diligently to develop solutions to meet Saturday’s deadline. As details are finalized, we will make our members aware of changes to their health plans’ benefits and how they can take advantage of them. We remain focused on providing our members with resources and information to stay safe.
They didn’t give any details about how to get the tests or if you will need to request reimbursement.
Aetna responded, with a link to their website that shows what qualifies you to be eligible for the tests, and says you will need to go through a reimbursement process.
For those of you who aren’t insured by one of these companies, you’re not out of luck.
On Jan. 19, the White House will have a way for people to request free tests on a site called COVIDTests.gov.
You’ll initially be able to request four tests, per residential address, but the White House says those will usually take 7-12 days to ship, so plan accordingly.
The Biden administration says there will be 500 million tests made available for Americans to request through that website.