Free Covid Tests Are Now Live (Open One Day Early)

The federal government’s free Covid-19 test distribution site is live one day early. will simply send you to the U.S. Postal Service to place an order. They’re offering four tests per residential address and expect to ship in 7 to 12 days after ordering.

This is a very strange way to send out tests. It might have seemed wiser to build up the supply chain through local and national drugstores, rather than centralizing distribution, but remember that this is also a backdoor subsidy for the US Postal Service.

Meanwhile you also have the ability now to submit for reimbursement from health insurance for up to 8 tests per month per covered individual (so 32 tests per month for a family of four on the plan). However the maximum per-test required reimbursement amount is $12. And in the face of scarce tests I’ve seen the prices of tests ordered online through places like Amazon rise over the past month. It’s not clear,

  • how many people will go through the process of navigating reimbursement
  • how much of the $12 will be captured by sellers versus lowering the net cost of testing

The free tests from the federal government are not valid for travel back to the United States, since they are not proctored. You still need a self-test that is monitored for that. (You may be able to separately pay for monitoring.)

Nonetheless, these tests are beneficial for travel and for other activities because it’s helpful to identify if you may be infected with the virus early, before engaging in activities where you’re around groups outside your household, so you don’t infect others.

At a low enough cost and abundant enough supply testing could really open up travel and other activities even as the pandemic rages. It’s what I called for back in the summer of 2020 and continued shouting from the rooftops. More than a bit late, perhaps, if the federal government won’t actually make these tests available until the end of January 2022 but it’s something. Get yours now.

(HT: Dan’s Deals)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I just ordered my kits through the USPS portal. It took one minute and I was done. We’ll see if they deliver within the next 7-12 days as promised.

  2. Honest question that’s been going around our house – why do I want to know if I’ve got Covid? We’re all triple-vaxxed and if I feel sick, I’m going to stay away from people for a few days, which you should do for any transmissible disease from flu to colds. What does getting a positive diagnosis do? If I feel really, really sick, I’ll go to the hospital or my doctor, like I do for any condition. If they want to test me when I get there, fine.

    I suspect I was exposed to Omicron in CDG standing in line for hours on my way back to the US, as I had a three-day headache a few days later and no tests were available, but what would it have told me? I took naproxin for the headache until it went away, end of story. I see nothing I missed out on.

  3. I quite agree C_M, much of the testing is part of the fear and panic that has gripped the world over this virus. I did get a test (symptoms were pretty classic) and am waiting for the results. But in my case there were two good reasons. I’m scheduled to leave the country next week and this week I was (am not now) set to do substitute teaching, which pays very well. If it was just an occasional sneeze or I wasn’t going to be around kids–who I think gave it to me last week–there would be no reason to bother. If I don’t have it I can teach and then leave. If I do then everything has to be rearranged.

  4. It’s well established that one can have Covid and be totally asymptomatic. So, for example, before going to a family gathering, testing could uncover that one had Covid and was contagious even though they were totally asymptomatic.

  5. I quite agree that if you need to get tested for travel or work purposes, do so, (been there, done that, will do it again) but to get tested just because you feel unwell – why?

  6. The free Covid-19 test distribution site did not open one day early because it was already tomorrow in Guam, Saipan, and Palau.

  7. Looking forward to see health care premiums skyrocket for all those test pushers, because there is NO SUCH THING as a “free test”.
    And yes, let’s keep the hysteria going. Otherwise, the Dems won’t be able to win the midterm elections at all.

  8. Are people so poor or cheap that this is a major issue? I ordered at home tests from Amazon for around $20 a box (each w 2 tests). Got enough to ensure my family could test if any got sick to confirm if they had COVID.

    Have we reached the point that $100 dollars matters that much to people? If so it is sad.

  9. Yes AC, sadly, $100 matters to about 40% of the people in this country.
    It matters to me.
    We are invisible (until we don’t show up for work) but we exist.

  10. Don’t know what world you live in, but yes, $100 matters. And my family makes a good living, way more than most. I can just imagine what $100 means to someone making an average wage. It’s not “sad”, it’s life and anyone lighting their cigar with a $100 bill kinda qualifies as an asshat, regardless of their performative politics.

  11. I didn’t mean to imply you were lighting cigars with $100 bills CM.
    Oh, and I live in the poor world.
    Disabled, small check (which I am very grateful for because it comes with Medicare), part time work at government enforced wage limits.
    No more debate please. It is what it is…..

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