Duval County

Got private health insurance? Starting Saturday you can get at home COVID-19 tests for free

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Testing for COVID-19 has become a regular part of many people’s lives.

If you’ve ever purchased an at-home test, then you know it can get expensive to continue testing — especially for larger families.

But starting this weekend, the Biden-Harris administration is planning to save you some money while expanding access to free testing.

STORY: Parents, teachers share thoughts on DCPS handling of COVID-19 cases

Beginning on Saturday, Jan. 15, if you have private health coverage, the cost of your at-home COVID-19 tests will be covered.

This could help prevent people from waiting in long lines to get tested, moving forward,

But since at-home COVID-19 tests are still in high demand, it seems the bigger challenge will be finding one.

Anesia Flowers came down to the Cuba Hunter Center, a city-funded testing site on Tuesday, to get tested for COVID-19.

“One of my customers, she actually just tested positive, so I saw that they were doing the free testing and had to come down and make sure that I’m OK,” Flowers explained.

According to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services released on Monday, the new coverage requirement means you’ll be able to go online, or into a store and get your at-home COVID-19 test paid for — either upfront or by getting reimbursed by submitting a claim to your plan.

Flowers told Action News Jax Courtney Cole she feels more comfortable with help from medical professionals.

“It’s nice for those who don’t want to go. For me I would rather see somebody who knows what they’re doing,” Flowers said.

But Amanda Lorenzo-Oria told Cole it beats waiting days for an appointment at a local pharmacy.

“I think that way is a lot better, then that way you’re not in a lot of contact with a lot of people,” said Lorenzo-Oria.

Any test given emergency use authorization by the FDA will be covered.

According to HHS, insurance companies and health plans are required to cover eight free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month.

Those without insurance will still have access to free local COVID-19 testing sites, or pay full price for their at-home COVID-19 test.

According to HHS, State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs are currently required to cover FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing.

LINK: Jacksonville mayor: Funding to increase capacity at city-run COVID-19 testing sites

Medicare: It pays for COVID-19 diagnostic tests performed by a laboratory, such as PCR and antigen tests, with no beneficiary cost-sharing when the test is ordered by a physician, non-physician practitioner, pharmacist, or other authorized health care professional.

Ultimately, HHS suggests getting more specific information from your health care provider about how your individual plan will cover over-the-counter tests.