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The website for free virus testing in us is coming.  Here’s how it will work

Criticized after weeks of shortages, President Joe Biden’s administration is working to make rapid COVID-19 test kits more available and accessible to Americans by increasing supply and lowering costs. A new federal website to request free test kits is launching Wednesday, with the first shipments going to Americans by the end of the month. Additionally, most Americans will be able to get reimbursed for the tests they buy starting Saturday.

Key details on the new programs:

How can I request a free test?

Starting Wednesday, January 19, free tests can be ordered at The first tests will be delivered at the end of January. The White House says the tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering via the US Postal Service. USPS reports 1-3 day shipping times for its First Class Parcel Service in the continental United States. Shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, Army Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO), and Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) addresses will be mailed via Priority Mail.

Importantly, given shipping and processing times, Americans will need to request the tests long before they meet federal guidelines to require testing.

When should I test?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends home testing when people experience COVID-19 systems, including fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms and muscle aches; five days after potential exposure to COVID-19; or as part of testing protocols to stay in schools and workplaces.

How many tests can I order on the website?

The White House says that to promote broad access, “submissions from will initially be limited to four rapid tests per residential address, regardless of the number of occupants.

Is there another way to get a test kit for free?

Starting Saturday, private insurers will be required to cover the cost of up to eight rapid home tests per month per insured person, under a new rule from the Biden administration.

People will have the option of buying tests in a store or online and then claiming reimbursement from their health insurance. Insurers are encouraged to work with pharmacies and retailers to develop plans to cover the cost of testing with no out-of-pocket to customers, but those programs won’t be immediately widespread.

Those with public health insurance through Medicare, or without insurance, will be directed to to order tests or to community health centers in their area offering free testing.

How will I be reimbursed?

The Biden administration says procedures will differ from insurer to insurer, and it encourages Americans to save receipts from rapid test purchases for later reimbursement and to contact their insurers for information.

Crucially, the requirement only covers purchases on or after Saturday. Insurers are not expected to retroactively reimburse the cost of tests purchased earlier.

What are the other testing options?

The Biden administration stresses that the website is just a tool for Americans to access COVID-19 testing. Millions of free tests are available at participating pharmacies, community health centers and Federal Emergency Management Agency-supported sites in parts of the country experiencing an increase in cases.

What home test will I take?

It will vary. The federal government has already secured more than 420 million tests to distribute through, with plans to increase the order to 1 billion tests in the coming weeks. All tests provided will be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration and are capable of detecting the most transmissible omicron variant of COVID-19, which is the dominant strain in the United States. Although they are packaged differently and may use slightly different procedures, according to officials, the detection and effectiveness testing mechanisms are generally the same. All tests will come with detailed instructions.

Why is Biden buying these test kits?

It represents an acknowledgment by the president that the administration must do more to increase access to COVID-19 testing, which is an important tool to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In cases where infected people show symptoms or not, testing is the only way to know if they have the virus so they can avoid being on the go and potentially spreading the disease.

Demand for test kits skyrocketed as the holidays approached and people became eager to test themselves and their families before traveling and as the omicron variant spread rapidly in just weeks to become the dominant strain in the United States.

Biden’s pledge of 1 billion test kits adds to the administration’s earlier commitment to send 50 million rapid tests to community health centers across the country.

How much will the program cost?

The White House estimates the cost of procuring and distributing the first 500 million tests at around $4 billion. That will be paid for with money from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Biden signed into law in March.

Will the government program make it harder for me to find a test at the pharmacy?

White House officials say the tests come from new manufacturing capacity and should not interfere with existing supplies relied on by pharmacies, health clinics and state governments.


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