It sucks that we’re back to talking about Covid tests and where to find them again, but here’s some good news: It’s a lot easier to find Covid tests now than it was this time last year.

That’s, in part, because the FDA has provided emergency authorization for several retailers to begin selling at-home Covid tests without a prescription.

Emergency authorization is not the same as FDA approval. Basically, it means the FDA decided the benefits of allowing these tests to be sold outweighed the risks, and they cut through a boatload of red tape in order to authorize these Covid tests to be sold by Amazon, Walmart, Target and other retailers.

I’m here to help you figure out which test is right for you by answering a few easy questions:

  • How much does this test cost?
  • When will I have my results?
  • Is this test safe for my kids?

Read on for what I found, and stay up to speed on all your shopping questions by downloading the KCL app.

 

Retailer Covid Tests vs. Clinical Lab Covid Tests

Amazon is the only retailer that’s selling its own testing kit. Everyone else is selling testing kits produced by various clinical labs that have gained emergency authorization for their products. That means — despite differences in price or quantity — retailers are selling the same testing kits you would find if you bought directly from the clinical labs where these tests are manufactured.

 

1. You can order four free Covid tests from covidtests.gov.

Starting Jan. 18–19, 2022, Americans can begin ordering free at-home Covid-19 tests. Here’s the low-down:

  • No credit card is required, and there’s no shipping cost.
  • There’s a limit of one order per residential address.
  • One order includes four individual rapid antigen Covid-19 test.
  • Orders will ship for free starting in late January.
  • The tests are safe for children.
  • They give results within 30 minutes (no lad drop-off required).

Read more about these free at-home Covid tests here.

 

2. Get at-home Covid tests covered by your insurance.

Starting Jan. 15, private health insurers will help cover the costs of at-home Covid testing for people on their plans. They’ll be required to cover up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month.

If you’re on a private health insurance plan, you’ll be able to purchase at-home Covid tests for free or submit receipts for reimbursement. This new policy applies to each individual in your household covered under the same plan. For example, a family of four can be reimbursed for up to 32 tests per month.

If you don’t have insurance, you’ll be able to get free tests through an upcoming federal website that plans to make 500 million at-home tests available via mail.

 

3. Order free at-home Covid test kits from Labcorp.

Labcorp, a multibillion-dollar clinical lab, offers its Pixel at-home Covid test free of charge for anyone experiencing symptoms or who has had potential exposure to Covid-19 (there’s an online questionnaire you fill out prior to checkout).

If you aren’t experiencing symptoms and have not been exposed to Covid-19, then the test kit will cost $119.

The Pixel test is a PCR (think: non-rapid) test. After completing your test, you’ll drop off your test kit at your local FedEx, which will then ship it back to Labcorp for processing.

When to expect results: 1 – 2 days from when your sample is received at the lab.

 

4. Find the most affordable, rapid at-home Covid testing for under $25 at Walmart and Amazon.

If you’re looking to buy the iHealth COVID-19 at-home test, you can find it at Amazon or Walmart for $17.98. It’s safe for kids two years or older (when administered by an adult), which isn’t true for every testing kit.

This is another nasal swab antigen test, which is authorized by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

When to expect results: 15 minutes after you complete the test.

 

5. Skip Amazon’s $39.99 at-home Covid test if you’re testing kids.

Via Amazon

Don’t even consider Amazon’s at-home Covid test if you need to test children; Amazon’s test kit is only for adults 18 and older. Even if you are older than that, you might be overpaying unless you have the right healthcare plan.

The test kit is $39.99, but it can be purchased with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) card. Simply add the card during checkout.

If you don’t have one of those, then Amazon’s offering isn’t worth the price. It’s the same kind of test you can get elsewhere for much cheaper or even for free.

When to expect results: 1 day after your sample is received at the lab.

See all Amazon deals.

 

 

6. Ellume’s Covid test has been recalled by the FDA.

Ellume is an Australian-based health company, and their Covid tests were recalled in October 2021 because, according to the FDA, Ellume’s Covid tests had too many false positive test results.

If you have an Ellume test you bought prior to the recall, the FDA’s instructions are to find the “lot number,” which is on the sticker on the side of the Ellume test carton. You can find a list of recalled lot numbers here — if the number on your carton is a match, don’t use it.

 

7. Visit a Covid testing site or your doctor for a free Covid test.

Via Flickr

If you’re able to visit one of these places, then your Covid test will be both free and administered by a professional who’s probably done more of these tests than you have.

As someone who’s a bit of a wimp when it comes to swabbing my own nose, I appreciate knowing the test will be given by someone who knows what they’re doing.

When to expect results: For rapid tests, results may come as early as 15 minutes after your test; for non-rapid tests, expect results to come one to two days after your test.

Do you have any other questions about buying an at-home Covid test? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll get back to you with an answer.

Read These Tips Before Buying At-Home Covid Tests from Amazon, Walmart & Target