It’s that time again: COVID-19 cases are on the rise. And unlike every previous wave, the federal public health emergency, which made the tools to control the coronavirus widely available (and mostly free), is no longer in effect.
“When the public health emergency ended (on May 11), private insurance companies were no longer required to cover the tests,” Dr. Abrar Karan, an infectious disease researcher at Stanford University, told Yahoo Life. “But there are still ways for people to get free tests.”
Here’s what you need to know about when to take the test, which test to use, how to get one for free, and whether older tests are OK to use.
When is the test done?
As with the previous variants, if you develop symptoms, get tested immediately. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises Test at least five full days after exposure.
The most common symptoms of EG.5 subvariant, Which now accounts for the majority of new casesincludes:
No test should be done
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests administered by healthcare providers are very accurate, but they usually take 24 to 72 hours to get results.
Antigen tests, also known as rapid tests, can be done at home and give you results within 15 minutes, but they are less sensitive and more likely to produce false negatives.
how Get the test for free
What you can get depends on your health insurance and where you live.
If you have traditional Medicare Part B, Which provides Medicare coverage to Americans 65 or older who enroll and pay a monthly premium can still get a PCR test and Your insurance will cover it completely without co-payments and regardless of whether you meet your annual deductible amount, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. However, you can’t get a rapid over-the-counter test from a pharmacy for free anymore.
If you have Medicaid, Which provides coverage for people whose income is below a certain threshold – the threshold varies by state – testing is covered without any cost sharing Until September 30, 2024Under a federal mandate. Then, states will have to decide whether to continue that coverage. This includes over-the-counter tests, however Some states may require a prescription. If you go to the pharmacy and order a rapid test and provide your insurance information, they will be able to tell you if there are prescription requirements.
If you have private health insurance Through your employer, spouse or parent’s employer, or through a government exchange, your insurance company is still required to cover tests performed by a medical professional, but they may be subject to the same deductible or co-costs as any other testing, and your insurance company may specify Insurance The number of tests that are covered or require prior authorization. In-home testing is no longer required to be covered, and “although some health plans may continue to provide this coverage, most no longer do,” According to Verywell Health. Large insurance companies, including UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, and Aetna, Stop covering tests at home. Karan says to call your insurance company to find out which tests are still covered by your insurance if you are unsure. Some states still require private insurance companies to cover COVID-19 testing. California, for example, Maintain requirements through November 11, 2023.
If you have a Medicare Advantage, Which means if you choose to get your Medicare benefits through a private insurance company, your insurance may still cover at-home tests. However, you may encounter discounts or discounts for PCR tests.
If you are not insured, Free tests are no longer guaranteed. However, it is still there Free tests are available Since the federal government stockpiled them during the pandemic. “The government isn’t buying more tests, but they haven’t completely run out, so there won’t be any free tests left,” says Karan.
You can go to CDC Test Locator, enter your zip code and find a participating provider that has a free test kit, like a pharmacy or lab. task diagnostics, for example, It allows you to schedule a free PCR test appointment online. If the location closest to you, which might be a pharmacy like CVS, doesn’t have an online reservation, you may want to call to make sure the test is still available, Karan advises.
Can you use an expired test?
Many Americans who received or purchased free home tests earlier in the pandemic may be wondering if it is safe to use a test that has recently expired. The FDA has revised the expiration dates of some tests to extend them by several months, so you should check the agency’s guidelines to see if the test you took is one of them. Follow this linksearch for your test name, click Extended Expiration Date, and check the batch number on your box for the new expiration date for your test.