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Here's How to Get More Free COVID Tests

The Ascent logo The Ascent 5/17/2022 Maurie Backman
A person using a nasal swab to do a Covid test at home. © Getty Images A person using a nasal swab to do a Covid test at home.

Whether you've officially had COVID yet or not, you've probably, over the course of the past two years, experienced some symptoms consistent with it. And that may have prompted you to go out and buy a rapid COVID test -- or a series of rapid tests -- and pay for that out of pocket.

While rapid COVID tests may be convenient, they certainly aren't cheap. A single test could easily run you close to $10, which isn't so terrible on a one-off basis. But what if you have multiple kids with cold symptoms? At that point, you may be looking at using four or five tests a day for a number of days to see if your family is positive or not. And that could get expensive, especially at a time like this.

As it is, many consumers are having a difficult time making ends meet due to rising living costs. Throw in the cost of at-home COVID tests, and we're talking about people having to rack up debt or raid their savings just to keep tabs on their health and avoid spreading an unwanted virus to others.

But there's a bit of good news on the COVID test front. The Biden administration is now making a third round of rapid tests available to consumers at no cost. And signing up for them is, thankfully, quite easy.

Go get your COVID tests

You may not be worried about having COVID right now. But you never know when you might need to test yourself or a family member for it. And that's a good reason to get your hands on a bunch of rapid tests.

What's more, last winter, during the omicron surge, rapid COVID tests were in short supply, leaving people to scramble to get their hands on them. That's a scenario you don't want to run into again, so it pays to load up on COVID tests while they're available. Many of these tests have a reasonable expiration window so that if you acquire them now, they'll still be valid this winter.

Meanwhile, for the third time this year, the U.S. government is making rapid COVID tests available to consumers at no cost. For the first two rounds, households were limited to a maximum of four tests. This time, households can order an additional eight tests at COVIDTests.gov.

You may be eligible for reimbursement

If you have a larger family and have had several COVID scares, you may have been forced to pay for rapid tests on your own dime. The good news, though, is that as of mid-January 2022, insurance companies were required to start covering the cost of rapid tests. If you bought some tests at your local pharmacy this year and kept your receipts, it pays to contact your insurer and see about getting reimbursed.

Meanwhile, some pharmacies will allow you to run your rapid test purchases through your insurance from the start so you don't have to shell out any money. CVS, for example, allows you to do this, and it's worth checking to see if your local pharmacy has a similar option. While getting reimbursed for your COVID tests isn't such a bad deal, having those tests covered from the get-go is an even better one.

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