You can order free at-home COVID-19 tests at new federal website — What you need to know

A newly launched government website, covidtest.gov, allows every household in the U.S. to order up to four free at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits. The tests will typically be shipped within 7-12 days of ordering, with the first tests arriving at homes as early as late January. Above, an image of the checkout page, where residents are asked to enter their address.

Johnson Countians, along with other Americans, can now start ordering free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests through a new website run by the federal government.

Officially launched Wednesday, the website is part of a renewed effort by the Biden administration to increase access to testing, which has been in high demand as the Omicron variant continues to lead to spikes in new cases throughout the country.

Here is what you need to know.

How can I order my free COVID test kits?

  • To order your free at-home COVID-19 tests, go to covditests.gov. From there, you can click on “order free at-home tests,” which redirects to special.usps.com/testkits.
  • You will be asked to provide only your legal name and shipping address before placing your order.”The tests will be completely free–there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number,” the website says.
  • There were reports of residents living in multi-unit apartment complexes facing some trouble ordering kits, but the U.S. Postal Service has said that problem is impacting a “small percentage of orders.”

How long will it take to receive the tests?

  • According to the site, tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering through the U.S.  Postal Service.
  • White House officials are recommending to order the tests well in advance of needing to use them due to the potentially longer shipping and processing times.
  • If your shipment never arrives, officials say to contact U.S. Postal Service directly.

How many can I order?

  • No matter the number of people in your household, these initial shipments are limited to four at-home rapid tests per residential address, according to the website.
  • The website says the number is limited “to promote broad access.”

Which home test will I get?

  • The test each household receives will vary as the federal government has secured more than 420 million tests for distribution through the site already, with plans to increase the order to 1 billion in the coming weeks.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has authorized all of the tests supplied by the website as being capable of detecting the  Omicron variant.
  • Officials say though the tests may be packaged differently and may use slightly different procedures, the test mechanism of detection and effectiveness are generally the same.
  • You will not be allowed to choose which test you get, according to the site.

Are there other options to get a test kit for free?

  • If you are insured by a private entity, they are required to cover the cost of up to eight at-home rapid tests per month per insured person as of the beginning of last weekend, according to a new rule from the Biden administration.
  • People now have the option of buying tests at a store or online, then seeking reimbursement from their insurance provider.
  • Officials recommend saving receipts from any rapid at-home test purchases and reaching out to your insurance provider for more information.
  • The requirement only covers purchases on or after Jan. 15.