Where to Find Reliable At-Home COVID-19 Tests Today

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COVID test

If you're reading this, you probably already know how difficult it is to find at-home COVID-19 tests on store shelves and online right now. The good news is that -- contrary to what it may seem -- if you know where and what to look for, they aren’t impossible to find. 

Despite some of the most popular brands of tests being out of stock nearly everywhere, sometimes you can get lucky and catch a restock. For instance, one of the easiest-to-use at-home COVID-19 antigen tests, Intrivo Diagnostics' On/Go test, is currently in stock-- and even on sale at Amazon right now. 

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If you’re looking to pick up a few at-home test kits in light of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, then you’re in luck. Ahead of tomorrow's official launch, you can start ordering free at-home tests online on COVIDTests.gov, as part of the Biden administration's plan to make tests more accessible. You can request four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household. Kits will start shipping in late January and ship within seven to 12 days.

The Biden administration also announced that private insurance companies must now reimburse for over-the-counter COVID test kits. Up to eight tests are allowed per person on the insurance policy, per month. So now is an excellent time to shop for at-home testing kits and build up a household supply to use when necessary. 

This guide is to help you understand all the at-home test basics -- the who, what, when, where and why of testing for COVID-19 at home. 

I need an at-home COVID-19 test. Where can I get one?

The best site to search for in stock at-home COVID-19 testing kits is findacovidtest.org. The site allows you to search current availability by brand, retailer and test type.

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On/Go's testing kit comes complete with two tests and offers a digital record of your test results via a user-friendly app that can guide you through the testing process. This rapid antigen test is currently $15 off and in stock on Amazon. 

The iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test comes with two antigen rapid tests that display results in 15 minutes. The test is recommended for people aged 15 years and older. 

The BD Veritor at-home kit is a rapid antigen, nasal swab test that works with an app -- so, instead of reading lines on an applicator, you get a read-out on your smartphone that declares whether you're negative or positive for COVID-19. Results take 15 minutes. Two tests are included; they're to be used within two to three days of each other. Authorized for ages 2 and up. 

This is one of the few PCR at-home tests available online. It is more sensitive to pathogens, making its accuracy comparable to what you'd get at a testing site. Lucira's Check It COVID-19 test is a molecular test that uses a nasal swab to produce results in 30 minutes or less. The kit contains one test. Authorized for ages 2 and up. 

This rapid antigen test from Abbott contains two nasal swabs, for two tests to be conducted within about three days of each other. Results from each swab are promised in 15 minutes. Authorized for ages 2 and up.     

Quidel's QuickVue is a rapid antigen test that contains two nasal swabs, for two tests, to be used about two to three days apart. It promises results in about 10 minutes. Authorized for ages 2 and up. 

OraSure's InteliSwab kit is a rapid antigen test that contains two, single-use nasal swabs that are to be used within three days of each other. Results are promised in 30 minutes. Authorized for ages 15 and up.  

What is an at-home COVID test, and what kinds of at-home COVID tests are there?

What kind of at-home COVID tests are there?
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An at-home COVID-19 test is one you can take in the safety and comfort of your own home, on your own timeline. You read the instructions; collect the sample (a nasal swab, usually); and wait for the results on your own. 

There are two kinds of at-home COVID-19 tests: molecular and antigen. 

A molecular test usually involves a nasal swab (but sometimes saliva). The Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit is a popular at-home molecular test.  

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An antigen test usually involves a nasal or throat swab, and is commonly known as a rapid test. The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is an example of a leading name in this at-home category.

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Antigen tests can get you results in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. An at-home molecular test, per the FDA, can deliver an answer in perhaps an hour or less.  

Which at-home COVID-19 test is easiest to use?

Which at-home COVID-19 test is easiest to use?
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Not all COVID-19 tests are created equal. If you do have a choice when shopping for an at-home test, it's a good idea to consult some experts. 

In December 2021, healthcare non-profit ECRI evaluated a number of the most popular at-home COVID-19 testing kits -- including BinaxNOW, BD Veritor, CareStart and Flowflex -- for ease of use.

The group found that the Intrivo Diagnostics On/Go test was the easiest to use (score: 82.9), followed by AccessBio's CareStart (80.8) and the Flowflex (79.5) test.

"If you have a choice, it's better to get a higher-rated test," the ECRI report concludes.

You can check the stock of the top-rated COVID-19 antigen test below.

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Do you have to have COVID symptoms to take an at-home COVID test?

Do you have to have COVID symptoms to take an at-home COVID test?
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Generally speaking, there are molecular and antigen at-home tests that'll work for you whether you have COVID-19 symptoms or not. But the answer may vary depending on a test's authorization, so read your label.   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers plenty of resources and recommendations on who should test, when to test, how to test and what to do if your test result is positive -- or negative.  

Will my at-home COVID test be covered by insurance?

Are at-home COVID tests covered by insurance?
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Effective January 15, 2022, private insurance companies are required to reimburse for over-the-counter COVID test kits. Up to eight tests are allowed per month, per person covered. The requirement, issued by the Biden administration, covers all at-home COVID-19 tests covered under the emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (The emergency use authorization status of a test is typically located on its box.)

Tests purchased prior to January 15 do not qualify. That doesn't necessarily mean you're out of luck. Tests ordered on referral of your healthcare provider and tests ordered by your healthcare provider may still be covered. Contact your own insurance company for more information about your policy and what it covers.


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