Free Covid tests: home test ordering website is up and running

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Tuesday that the government’s website for ordering free Covid-19 tests is up and running in a “beta phase” ahead of the official rollout of the government’s website. government on Wednesday morning.

“COVIDtests.gov is currently in beta, which is usually part of the process because it’s kind of tested early in its rollout,” Psaki told reporters at the White House. “It will officially launch tomorrow morning.”

Since the official launch wasn’t scheduled until Wednesday, a White House official said it was just the beta phase to ensure the site was running smoothly.

“In accordance with website launch best practices, COVIDtests.gov is currently in its beta phase, which means the website is operating at limited capacity before its official launch,” a White House official told CNN. “This is standard practice to resolve troubleshooting issues and ensure that the official launch is as smooth as possible tomorrow. We expect the website to officially launch tomorrow mid-morning.”

Many CNN readers reported that the site was easy to use and that ordering only took a few minutes.

Others, however, have reported experiencing issues. Several readers said that when they tried to use the site, they were told that tests had already been ordered for their address and therefore their application could not be completed. Some live in apartment buildings, but others said they lived in private residences and no one else in the household had used the site.

The website notes that it’s up and running early to prepare for the full launch on Wednesday. He asks people to “come back tomorrow if you run into any unexpected problems”.

Limited capacity

Although the manager said that the site was only operating at a limited capacity, it is unclear what the initial phase of the site is limited by. After entering shipping information online, the site told people that the tests would begin shipping “in late January” and that the United States Postal Service, which handles deliveries, “will only send one single set of 4 free in-home COVID-19 tests at valid residential addresses.”

Late last week, administration officials said that once a request is made through the website, tests should be shipped within seven to 12 days. Requests are limited to four tests per household, regardless of household size.

In addition to the website, the federal government is setting up a hotline to request the tests. It is currently being tested and additional details will be available over the weekend, the White House announced on Tuesday.

Fake Covid-19 testing sites put consumers at risk, officials say as they struggle to keep up

The president announced plans to make half a billion rapid Covid-19 tests available to Americans by mail last month before Christmas as the Omicron variant surged across the United States.

Now the variant represents almost all US cases.

The Omicron variant caused 99.5% of new coronavirus cases in the United States last week, according to estimates released Tuesday by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United States is currently seeing an average of 777,453 new Covid-19 cases and 1,797 new deaths per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In total, the Biden administration has pledged to acquire 1 billion rapid tests — initially the 500 million to distribute free by mail to Americans, with an additional 500 million recently announced to meet future demand.

Free at-home testing from retailers

Most Americans with private insurance can purchase home tests online or in stores and have them paid for at the time of purchase or reimbursed by submitting a claim to their insurer. An effort of the Biden administration, the program launched on Saturday, and only tests purchased from that date are eligible.

Prescriptions or prescriptions from physicians will not be required and testing will not be subject to copays or deductibles. Insurers must pay for up to eight tests per covered person per month.

Insurers can set up a network of preferred stores, pharmacies and online retailers where consumers can receive tests at no upfront cost. People could still buy tests outside of this network, but insurers would only have to reimburse up to $12 for each.

Consumers should contact their insurers to find out if they provide direct coverage or if claims need to be submitted.

However, many Medicare enrollees are not eligible for free at-home testing from retailers. Traditional health insurance covers Covid-19 lab tests free of charge when ordered by a medical professional.

People enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans should check with their insurer if the costs of home testing will be covered.

Americans, however, are struggling to find tests to buy at retailers or order online. Scores wrote to CNN complaining about not finding tests.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Sam Fossum, Ben Tinker and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.


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