What You Should Know
- If you need to get tested for the coronavirus, make sure to check all options frequently, as appointments may open up at any time
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed, your in-person COVID-19 test should be covered by your health insurance, but make sure to book at an official testing site
- At-home COVID tests are not covered yet but may soon be covered with new government orders
With COVID-19 cases surging across the country, many people struggle to find quick testing in their area. Not only does this put a halt on people’s lives as they stay home from work until they can get tested, but it makes it harder to contain the virus without quick and accurate testing readily available.
If you are worried you have COVID-19, the last thing you need is the stress of struggling to find testing or worrying about how to find affordable health insurance that will cover your test's cost. Luckily, it is possible to find testing in your area fully covered by your health insurance, although it may require a bit of effort and time to quickly find a test appointment due to the current high demand as a result of the Omicron varient surge.
Where to Find COVID-19 Testing
There are two ways to get testing for COVID-19, either in-person at a testing site or at home with a self-test kit. Read on to see where you can find COVID-19 testing in your area.
In-Person COVID-19 Testing
If you have no idea where to start to find in-person testing, sometimes the best place to start is visiting a government site like the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that compiles where you can get tested in your area. Government sites also have practical advice about how to prepare for COVID-19, whether it's how to get a vaccine or how to cope with mental health issues from the stress of COVID-19.
Some of the most common places to check for COVID-19 testing are as follows.
Primary Care Provider
Your primary care provider may be able to provide you with testing, or they can write a doctor’s order for you to get tested, which some testing sites require. So if you need to get tested, giving your doctor a call may be the easiest and quickest option to getting a testing site appointment.
Non-Emergency Convenience Care
Some convenience care or urgent care sites, such as MedExpress or Convenient Care practices, offer COVID-19 testing along with their usual array of services. You will have to call and check which locations offer drive-by testing appointments, as often only select locations offer this service. You can also expect a bit of a wait as people rush to get tested after the holidays, before traveling, and because of increased exposure risks.
Multiple pharmacies, from CVS to Rite Aid, offer COVID-19 test appointments in addition to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. While demand times are high, the wait time to get a COVID-19 test appointment can be longer than from your PCP or local convenience care.
At-Home COVID-19 Testing
With the introduction of at-home tests for sale, many turn to the stores to get quick answers about their symptoms, test before traveling, meeting with friends, or working. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of tests right now as the tests are in such high demand that they often fly off the shelves as soon as they are stocked.
If you are looking for an at-home test, either a rapid or a PCR that you can send away to a lab, your best solution is to keep an eye on sites like Walmart, Target, or CVS to see when tests are available for pickup at local stores. Facebook groups have also formed for some local areas dedicated to posting when members see at-home tests stocked in stores.
Additionally, check with your city or state to see if either offer any free testing programs or have any free at-home tests for residents.
The good news is that the shortage of at-home tests will level out. The U.S. government is working on buying a large number of tests and will eventually have a program where they mail them out for free to households who request them.
What COVID-19 Testing is Covered by Health Insurance
At-home tests will soon be covered by health insurance when the government's order for health insurance to cover at-home tests goes into effect. However, only a certain number of at-home tests will be covered per person per year. At times, employers or schools may also offer free at-home test kits for those who need them.
The majority of COVID-19 testing outside of purchased at-home kits is free and completely covered by your health insurance if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been exposed. Free testing is often offered even if a patient doesn’t have health insurance. If you need to get a test before traveling, your test may not be covered. Make sure to check with the testing site to see if you will be charged.
Additionally, make sure to schedule your COVID test at an official testing site. Be careful of fraud and COVID-19 testing scams you may find online.
While it is an inconvenience to find quick testing appointments right now and difficult to find at-home tests in stock, the good news is that this should get better over time as the production of at-home tests is ramped up. This should lessen the demand for rapid in-person tests, making the lines shorter at test sites.
Until then, use the sources covered in this article to find testing near you and keep yourself and others safe and healthy.