Home COVID-19 Testing Prices Rise But Free Tests Are Coming

Home COVID-19 Testing Prices Rise But Free Tests Are Coming

Amid growing cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, it has been nearly impossible for many Americans to find home test kits available online or in stores. Now, your search for COVID-19 tests can also get more expensive.

A price control agreement between the White House and three major retailers has expired. As a result, the price of some home tests increases by several dollars per kit.

In September, President Biden announced a deal with Amazon, Kroger and Walmart in which retailers would sell home coronavirus test kits “at cost” – meaning they price the kits at little or no profit. – for at least three months. The deal is no longer in effect and retailers are starting to raise prices.

“It’s just a matter of getting back to our pre-commitment retail prices,” Kroger spokesperson Kristal Howard said.

At Kroger, for example, the price for a BinaxNOW home test kit was $ 17 under the White House deal. Now the price on Kroger’s website is $ 23.99, an increase of $ 6.99 per kit. The same home test at Walmart was previously listed online for $ 14 and costs $ 19.88 on Wednesday, an increase of $ 5.88 per kit. (These kits were periodically listed as out of stock on the Walmart website or only available in select stores on Wednesdays.)

Walmart says its pricing agreement was specifically for the BinaxNOW test, and that it has kept the price for that test at $ 14 during the holidays, longer than the terms of the agreement.

As part of Kroger’s deal, the grocery chain said it had maintained prices for the BinaxNOW test as well as Quidel’s QuickVue home test for 100 days.

Amazon did not respond to our request for comment. Price information for the BinaxNOW test is not available on the Amazon website and the kit is currently out of stock there. (You can, however, find a separate home test by iHealth Labs for $ 17.98, similar to the “at cost” price of other retailers under the White House deal. Note that the kits might not be delivered before January 20 at the earliest.)

Due to an increase in demand for home test kits fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, Kroger and Walmart have set purchase limits for BinaxNOW test kits ordered online. Walmart says inventory can be limited online, although there is no purchase limit for store-bought tests.

Likewise, Kroger has set a limit of one per order for the BinaxNOW test. Even that may be impossible: Kits are currently out of stock online. Alternatively, BinaxNOW kits may be available in-store at Kroger stores with a pharmacy. Sites other than pharmacies are selling the QuickVue test, and some sites are starting to sell a home collection PCR test (which requires sending a sample to a third-party lab for analysis).

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Reimbursement and free at-home tests

It doesn’t matter where you buy your in-home COVID-19 tests or how much you pay, be sure to keep the receipts. (It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re buying legitimate test kits – the Federal Trade Commission offered tips this week for avoiding false tests.)

President Biden told a press briefing on Tuesday that as of next week health insurers would be required to reimburse you for the cost of home tests.

“Next week, our requirement that your insurance company reimburse you for home tests goes into effect,” Biden said at the briefing. “So if you’re insured you can buy the test and get paid for it. “

Beyond that, the details of the refund process are unclear.

Additionally, the White House says it is launching a website where you can request home coronavirus tests shipped right to your door, free of charge.

The website is expected to launch later this month, shortly after the White House receives its first shipment of tests from manufacturers. In total, the White House plans to purchase and distribute 500 million COVID-19 home test kits.

“When we have these deliveries in hand, we will get the website up and running, make it available so people can order tests at that time,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday. , during a separate press briefing.