The long-awaited White House website for ordering free rapid tests on Covid-19 is finally available. new page, covidtests.gov, arrives in the middle of a lack of rapid tests and an increase in Covid-19 cases driven by the omicron variant. While this new program is not flawless, flooding the country with readily available rapid tests could be a powerful tool in the fight against the pandemic.
Covidtests.gov is part of the White House plan to buy and distribute a billion rapid tests in the coming months. The ultimate goal of the new testing initiative is to make it easier for people to find out if they have Covid-19, and if necessary, to isolate themselves in order to suppress the spread of the virus. Technically, covidtests.gov was not supposed to be launched until January 19, but the government announced “beta phase”Version of the page ahead of that deadline, which allows many people to order tests earlier. Within hours of launch, the beta version became the most popular government website at a distance.
Although it represents an improvement over the situation at the end of last year, when rapid tests were not only very difficult to find, but also expensive, the new program of the Biden administration comes with certain warnings. First of all, every American household can order only four tests – no matter how many people live there. And some of the people who tried to order the tests have already encountered technical problems, which could get worse as more users visit the site.
“Let’s hope this is not a scenario where those who are able to jump online are the only ones who can get tested,” Lindsay Dawson, assistant director of HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Recode. Dawson added that launching a beta could help the new Covid-19 site avoid some of the bugs from the early days of Healthcare.gov.
Given the craze for this new test option on Covid-19, you probably have questions about how to navigate the program. Let’s start with the basics of the website.
So, this new website allows you to order free tests on Covid-19. How hard could that be?
The process is designed to be very simple. To order a series of four rapid antigen tests at home for your household, go to covidtests.gov, which explains that anyone with a U.S. address (as well as people living in diplomatic and military offices abroad) is entitled to get tests.
Once on the homepage, click on the light blue “Order Free Tests at Home” button and you will be redirected to a special section of the United States Postal Service website. (USPS has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Social Services to help with the logistics of the new program, and you can also start your order via the USPS website.) Fill out the form on the page stating your name, shipping address and, if desired, email confirmation, your email address. The site has a box with information about your order, including a location for the dollar amount, but does not ask for any credit card information. The dollar amount should remain at $ 0.00 during the ordering process.
After filling out this form, click on the light green “Check Out Now” button and you should be sent to a new page that includes a USPS tracking number. If you provided your email address, you will also receive an email with the same confirmation number. If you live in continental United States, your tests will be shipped with USPS ‘first class package service. If you live in Alaska or Hawaii, in the United States, or at a diplomatic or military address abroad, your tests will be sent by priority mail. The site also has a a section with frequently asked questions it explains how to track your order and how to use quick tests once they are delivered.
Don’t wait to order tests. Since tests should take between seven to 12 days to deliver, the government recommends that people order tests on site now, instead of waiting until they get symptoms or being exposed to someone with Covid-19. We hope that everyone in the country will soon have their own mini stock of tests to use when needed.
It looks easy enough. what’s the catch
No problem, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind.
The biggest limitation of Biden’s new free rapid testing program is the limit of four tests, and for now there are no exceptions to this rule. While four tests may seem enough for a small household, rapid tests work best when used consecutively, and one person may need more than one test to catch the Covid-19 case.
To prevent the same household from ordering more than four tests, the USPS website is designed to catch people who have given the same address for multiple orders. This can cause some people living in apartment buildings to come across an error message that says someone has already ordered tests for their address. Because the USPS sends rapid test kits only to residential addresses, some people might get an error stating that their address is listed as business address in the USPS records and does not qualify for free tests.
If you encounter these problems, check again to see if you have including a certain number of apartments or units when filling out the purchase order. You can try to enter the unit number in the first line of your address and in a separate field for the apartment number. The USPS also has address book website which you can use to make sure you enter your home address in the same way as the USPS does in its records. If that fails, consider calling USPS Helpdesk at 1-800-275-8777 or submitting service request.
“Every launch of the website, in our opinion, carries a risk,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at briefing on Tuesday. “We can’t guarantee there won’t be a mistake or two.”
For those who do not have access to a computer or internet connection, the Government has also set up telephone line. For now, that number is the same as the government’s vaccine telephone line: 1-800-232-0233. This number is the only option for ordering free federal government tests without visiting the online portal. You will not be able to stop by the local post office and pick up the tests in person.
What are my options if I need more than four tests?
In addition to ordering tests on the new government website, you can still buy quick tests at pharmacies and online – and you may be able to get a refund for them. If you are on a private insurance plan, Medicaid or Child Health Insurance Plan, you are entitled to receive at least part, if not all, of the cost of up to eight tests that are refunded each month, according to new insurance instructions issued by the Biden administration in January.
If you do not have insurance or rely on Medicare and need more than four tests provided by the federal government, you should seek free tests from state or local organizations.
If my private insurance covers fast tests, how can I get compensation?
First: Save the bill for every Covid-19 test you buy. In addition, exactly how you will be reimbursed for quick tests at home depends on what insurance plan you have and where you bought the test.
Some insurance companies have teamed up with certain pharmacies so that their customers can get tests without going through the compensation process. If your plan does not, you should contact your insurance company for details on claiming compensation.
Some insurance companies have made the compensation process much easier than others. For example, if you are UnitedHealthcare, you can already download a quick quick test at any Walmart or Rite Aid pharmacy, as long as you have an insurance card. If you have Kaiser Permanente, you can claim compensation via the website. If you have Cigna, you are facing a more arduous process that involves filling out a paper refund form which must be sent by mail or fax to the company. This Gypsy Compensation Form is different from the forms you use for other insurance claims.
Also, keep in mind that it may take some time for insurance companies rapid compensation systems to make them fully operational. Some insurance companies may change their approach in the coming weeks and months.
Getting a quick test is still complicated. When will things be easy?
The testing situation is improving, but it is not perfect. There are still a lot of unknowns that have brought even more uncertainty into the already very uncertain period of the pandemic. Even with this new federal government website, you don’t know for sure if your test will really get to the point where you need it or if you’ll have enough tests to catch the Covid-19 case if you get sick.
Still, covidtest.gov is a great opportunity to stock up while you can, and the new insurance benefits – if you’re lucky enough to have them – are better than paying the full price for home tests. No matter how you do it, you will probably benefit from some quick tests. And as experts say, test early and test often. Things will get better.
Update, January 19, 2022 at 10:30: This story has been updated to include more information about the USPS website and phone number for ordering tests.