When To Test

Free COVID-19 Tests Are Coming! Know When to Use Them

With the release of free-by-mail & insurance-covered over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, the question is: When is the best time to use your COVID-19 kits?

Kim Noble
Mother giving child a nasal swab COVID test

As of September 20, 2022, this post will no longer be updated.

Update September 2, 2022: Free rapid tests are no longer being mailed to households by the US government.

Update June 2, 2022: Free tests for all households are available at COVIDTests.gov or by calling 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489). Military beneficiaries can get up to eight free tests per month at military hospitals or clinics. People with Medicare Part B can get up to eight free home tests per month at health-care facilities and participating pharmacies.

In late 2021, the Biden administration announced a pandemic priority for this winter: Getting more over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests on the market and available at price points accessible to all. The President also made specific promises:

That time has arrived!  

Private Health Insurance Now Covers OTC COVID-19 Tests

Beginning January 15, private health insurance companies and group health plans are required to cover eight FDA authorized OTC at-home tests per enrolled individual per month. Whether (and where) the cost of these tests will be covered up front will be detailed by your particular insurer. In some cases, you may have to pay for the test and submit receipts to your insurer for reimbursement. 

Free Rapid COVID-19 Tests Will Be Mailed to Americans  

The Biden administration is buying one billion tests to give away for free. Half of this supply will be available starting January 19, when Americans can order four tests per household online at COVIDTests.gov, and those tests are expected to ship within seven to 12 days of your order.

No matter how you get your tests, we’re here with the COVID Risk Quiz to help you decide when to put these tests into action.  

Should I Test Today?

In less than a minute, the Quiz can provide helpful information about your relative risk of getting COVID-19 — and your risk of spreading it to other people — based on critical bits of information you provide. 

The Quiz accounts for increased prevalence of the Omicron variant, so even if you’ve visited the Quiz before, we encourage you to try it again today. And visit again any time you’re considering whether you may need to test.

Caclulator Results ScreenshotResults Screenshot 2