How to Get Free Covid Tests in the US

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Covid hit our home this past week. The week prior we had a scare with our daughter, but she tested negative twice, so it must have been just a minor cold, but last week my husband tested positive. 

We had attended a birthday party the weekend prior and he started having cold symptoms on Thursday but tested negative. He tested positive on Saturday. So far my daughter and I have not had any symptoms and our daughter tested negative on Sunday. 

We had assumed the party would just be kids from her class since that's how the other parties had worked, but there were some people who were not in her class and a lot were not wearing masks, unlike the prior parties. Thus, we believe that's where my husband had been exposed as we both work from home and if anyone goes out, it's me to do shopping. This whole time I thought it would be me or our daughter to catch Covid since he rarely leaves the house, but unfortunately, it ended up being him.

As these free tests were not available to us until recently, we had to pay out of pocket for at-home Covid tests, and they were incredibly hard to find. We managed to get a test done at urgent care for our daughter, but we had to pay $35 out of pocket and it took three days to get results. We later tested her at another site which was free, but you have to book an appointment in advance and they are usually booked a few days out! The upside is they only took 24 hours to get us her results. 

Now, as of January 15, there are two ways you can get FREE at-home Covid tests if you live in the US: 

FREE US Covid At-Home Tests


On January 19. 2022, the US government started giving out 4 free at-home Covid tests per household:

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days. (Source)

You can fill out the form online and they will be shipped via USPS.

While this is great, the downside is some households have more than four people, so that means there might not be enough tests to test each family member.

2) Health Insurance

As of January 15, 2022, most health insurance companies will start covering at-home Covid tests:

Starting January 15, most people with a health plan can go online, or to a pharmacy or store to purchase an at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at no cost, either through reimbursement or free of charge through their insurance. This applies whether you purchased your health plan on your own or whether you get health insurance through your job.

The test will either be free directly at the point of sale, if your health plan provides for direct coverage, or by reimbursement if you are charged for your test. Be sure to keep your receipt if you need to submit a claim to your insurance company for reimbursement. If your plan has set up a network of preferred providers at which you can obtain a test with no out-of-pocket expense, you can still obtain tests from other retailers outside that network. Insurance companies are required to reimburse you at a rate of up to $12 per individual test (or the cost of the test, if less than $12).  (Source)

We checked our insurance and they do a reimbursement and they reimburse up to 8 covid tests per month. Make sure you read carefully! Our insurance specifically states 8 individual tests, which means if you buy a box with 2 or more tests, you have to list each test individually. It is not by the box! 


If you are a Minnesota resident, Vault Health has teamed up with the state to offer free at-home saliva testing:

Other states may have something similar, so check with your state! Otherwise, Vault Health will send you a test, but it would cost you $90.

The downside to Vault is that it is not truly an at-home test. You will have to spit in a tube which may need to be done via a Zoom call to make sure it is done correctly. Then the sample has to be mailed to a lab. Because of this, it may take a few days to get your results.

Free Covid Testing Sites in the US

If you need PCR tests or are out of at-home tests, you can check these links to find a local testing site near you! Many testing sites are free or free with insurance, or there may be a low cost, so make sure to do your research beforehand.

Many pharmacies are also providing on-site free Covid testing. Here are links to major pharmacies, but you may want to check your local ones too:

The only drawback with testing sites is it can take anywhere from 24 hours to up to 5 days depending on where you go before you get your results back, but their results are more accurate than at-home tests.