Early launch of free home Covid test kits website – Forbes Advisor

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US households can now order rapid Covid-19 tests for free from COVIDTests.gov. The website launched a day ahead of schedule to “deal with troubleshooting”.

The White House says the initiative aims to protect people from serious illnesses and is part of a multi-pronged strategy that includes adding federal testing, free N95 masks and pop-up vaccination sites, while reimbursing Americans for up to eight home tests. per month via their insurance. However, some experts say 500 million tests isn’t even close enough to what’s needed to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

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How to order free at-home Covid-19 rapid tests

Visit COVIDTests.gov to order your test kits. No credit card is required to order. Clicking on the button to order your tests will take you to a USPS page that will ask for your name and the address of where you would like the tests sent.

Each household can order up to four tests in total from valid residential addresses. If a member of the same household tries to order more tests on their behalf, the request will be denied.

Difficulties in placing orders are reported, especially for tenants living in large apartment buildings. According to Berkeleyside, a nonprofit news organization in Berkeley, Calif., some people living in multi-unit buildings or duplexes are blocked from ordering tests after other residents in other units place orders. People living in duplexes also experience problems.

A USPS spokesperson told Berkeleyside it sees “very limited” cases where multi-unit addresses prevent people from ordering their tests. If you experience such issues, you can file a support request online or call the support line at 1-800-ASK-USPS.

Tests typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering, but this timeframe may be shortened as the program grows. The US Postal Service says delivery will begin in late January. Households without internet access will be able to order their tests via a telephone line, which was not yet available at the time of writing.

The CDC recommends that Americans use home testing if they start showing symptoms or get tested at least five days after coming into contact with someone who has contracted the virus. It is also recommended that people congregating indoors with others at risk of severe illness or unvaccinated people test themselves beforehand.

The wait time for shipping and delivery of tests means that households should not wait until they show symptoms to request their free tests; they should order them as soon as possible to have them on hand.

Home kits offer convenience and the ability to mitigate community spread by allowing testing in your own home, but until this federal government decision, they weren’t cheap and hard to find.

As the Omicron variant has caused an increase in infections, there are reports of home test kits running out across the country. An analysis of the availability of Covid-19 tests from January 3 to 10 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that at-home Covid-19 tests were unavailable 91% of the time.

If you’re lucky enough to get one from a local store, home testing kits are eligible medical expenses that can be paid for or reimbursed through health savings accounts (HSAs), spending arrangements Flexible Health (FSA Health), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) and Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSA). And since January 15, insurers have been required to reimburse consumers for the costs of up to eight at-home Covid tests per individual per month.

But research shows that people who would benefit most from HSAs to help cover high initial medical costs, including low-income black and Hispanic Americans, are significantly less likely than their high-income, white counterparts to have access. to these vehicles. In theory, free testing could help ease that burden for low-income Americans of color.

Researchers from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute also criticize the insurance reimbursement mandate.

“Funding these tests through a cumbersome reimbursement process is the most inefficient, inequitable, and costly approach the United States could take,” reads a blog post from the Center on Health Insurance Reforms of the United States. ‘institute. The researchers point out that not all families have the financial means to cover the initial costs and wait for their reimbursements.

As of January 14, there are currently 20,000 federal testing sites across the United States, with more opening every week, according to the White House. The Defense Production Act is still in effect, allowing the country to quickly produce as many tests as possible.

According to the CDC, the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19 is to get vaccinated. Visit Vaccines.gov to find a vaccination center near you.

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