The federal government’s free Covid-19 test distribution site is live one day early. CovidTests.gov 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)