How to Get Free COVID Tests from the U.S. Government, for a Limited Time

Free COVID tests are again available to all Americans through a special federal program.

free covid tests
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Looking for free COVID tests as cases increase across the U.S.? Reported COVID cases have roughly doubled since recording a six-month low of 261,268 in mid-October 2022, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data (opens in new tab).

Nodding to this growing surge of cases, the White House yesterday announced its COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan (opens in new tab), which includes a limited-time reopening of the federal government's widely used, free COVID test program. 

According to Politico (opens in new tab), Biden officials paused the program in early September over concerns it would deplete its test stockpile before winter. Without new funding from Congress, the White House contended it needed to preserve “limited remaining supply” for future COVID-19 surges. More than 600 million at-home tests had gone out to households across the country by the time the program was halted.

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With COVID cases ticking back up, the administration has opened its stockpiles to Americans once again.

How to get free COVID tests

The White House yesterday announced that COVIDTests.gov (opens in new tab) is open for a limited round of ordering. Any U.S. households can order up to four rapid at-home COVID tests, which will be mailed directly to them for free. 

The administration will ship test orders for this round of testing beginning the week of Dec. 19 and continuing for the next several weeks. The administration will also make tests available to individuals who are blind or have low vision through this program. People who have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support placing an order can call 1-800-232-0233 to get help in multiple languages.

Other free COVID test options

On Jan. 15, 2022, the Biden administration (opens in new tab) began requiring private health insurers to cover the cost of their members' COVID tests. Today, multiple pharmacies including Walgreens (opens in new tab) and CVS (opens in new tab) will provide up to eight free COVID tests per month to customers with participating health insurance. You can obtain the tests at your closest pharmacy or request they mail them directly to your home. 

Medicare (opens in new tab) also covers the cost of eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests each calendar month, through the same participating pharmacies or health care providers. 

Medicare will cover these tests for any member of Part B, including those in Medicare Advantage. If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, the tests will be covered outside of your existing plan’s coverage and in addition to any over-the-counter tests that may be covered under the plan as a supplemental benefit.

For more money-saving health content, visit our healthcare hub.

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Ben Demers
Audience Engagement Manager, Kiplinger.com

Ben Demers manages audience engagement at Kiplinger, informing readers through a broad spectrum of personal finance content across social media, articles, e-newsletters, syndicated content, and videos. He is passionate about helping people lead their best lives through sound financial behaviors, particularly saving money at home and avoiding scams and identity theft. Ben graduated with an M.P.S. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Vassar College. He joined Kiplinger in May 2017.