(NEXSTAR) – Last winter, a massive surge in the coronavirus sparked the Biden administration to ship free at-home COVID-19 tests straight to people’s homes. The federal government also made it mandatory for private health insurers to cover the cost of test kits.
In 2023, will there still be a way to get COVID-19 at-home tests for free?
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The answer is yes, at least at first. But the full answer is more complicated than that.
Free tests sent to your home
In December, the White House released another batch of four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household. If you haven’t claimed them yet, you can still get them shipped to you courtesy of the United States Postal Service. Ordering takes about 30 seconds on covidtests.gov.
The White House has not said if it will send out another round of free tests in 2023, but it’s not too late to order the test kits announced in December 2022. If your household hasn’t claimed an order yet, you can still get two boxes of two tests each.
Free tests from your health insurer
Around this time last year, the federal government also made it mandatory for private health insurers to either provide you tests for free or reimburse you for their purchase. Insurers are required to cover the cost of eight tests per month per person, at a cost of up to $12 per test.
As of Jan. 1, 2023, that rule is still in effect, meaning you can continue to purchase the at-home tests and file claims for reimbursement from your health insurance company.
There’s a catch: The reimbursement requirement is only mandatory “during the public health emergency,” per the fine print. So if the federal public health emergency order expires, things could change.
Currently, the order is technically set to expire after Jan. 11. However, the Biden administration has said it would give states 60 days notice before it lifts the order, and that hasn’t happened.
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Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra could renew the order before Jan. 11, prolonging it another 90 days, and allowing for people to continue seeking reimbursement for test kits.