Time is running out to get free COVID-19 tests

Photo (c) Tang Ming Tung - Getty Images

COVID-19 will no longer be considered a public health emergency after May 11

The pandemic may be over but people still get COVID-19. And if you would like to have a few home tests on hand, time is running out to get them for free. After May 11 there is no guarantee the insurance providers will foot the bill.

Since early in the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has required your insurance company to pay the out-of-pocket costs for up to eight tests per month. That mandate expires this week.

The reason for the change is that starting May 12, the COVID-19 pandemic will no longer be considered a public health emergency in the U.S. And, when that happens, there’ll be a shake-up when it comes to who pays what for tests, treatment, and vaccines.

Vaccines and drugs are still free

Fortunately for consumers, COVID-19 vaccines and drugs will still be provided at no charge thanks to the federal government’s commitment to cover those costs. However, Americans will be on their own unless they have health insurance that will cover any other COVID-related situations.

For example, in-office tests will likely go up in price. Estimates of fees range from $70-100, depending on their insurer. At-home tests are also one area where consumers will have to pay.

In an email seen by ConsumerAffairs, Walgreens told its customers that “If your plan does provide coverage, there may be cost-sharing and limits to the number of tests covered per person per month.”

Some insurance companies will likely continue covering the cost of at-home tests, but they will no longer be required to. If you would like to stockpile some of the free tests before May 12, you can via this USPS website. You should also check to see if the at-home tests you have at home haven't expired, as well, and replace those for free while you can.

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