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How to get at home COVID tests reimbursed or delivered for free

Abbott's BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test is seen in the photo. The Food and Drug Administration authorized Abbott's BinaxNow and Quidel's QuickVue tests to be sold without a prescription for consumers who want to test themselves repeatedly at home.
Ted S. Warren / Associated Press
Abbott's BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test is seen in this undated photo.

Charlotte Roberts read a yellow sign taped to the window of her local pharmacy in San Diego. "Out of stock all at home COVID tests," it said. She and her 5-year-old-son were on a mission to find an at home COVID-19 test.

"It’s very frustrating," she said as she tried to figure out a game plan to find a test for her son who was exposed at school.

But finding one is not easy. More people have been exposed to COVID-19 this month and need proof of a negative test to go back to school, work, or just to have peace of mind. That’s making supplies limited.

Waiting in a long line for a PCR test is frustrating, too, and results are taking longer.

"I’ve been lucky enough to to get it between 24 and 48 hours, but right now I’ve heard it’s up to seven days to get results," said Roberts.

Fortunately, Roberts was able to find a test, but it was pricey.

"I did not expect it to be $44.48," she said.

RELATED: DA's office warns against buying unapproved COVID-19 at-home tests

Samantha Wick said she felt like she won the lottery when she found a test. She needs proof of a negative result to start her new job, but she didn’t feel so lucky when she saw the price.

"Yes, $42, they’re really expensive and it stinks because it’s like to not be able to go anywhere else, then to have to spend money just to be able to prove that you don’t have it, I feel like it’s not really fair," said Wick.

But starting Saturday, people with health insurance will be reimbursed for eight at home tests a month. They can get free tests at retailers that have agreements with insurance companies, but must save their receipt and submit a claim to get reimbursed.

Insurance will cover $12 per test, or more if it’s a multi pack. Tests must be FDA-approved and bought on or after Saturday to qualify.

It won't help Wick, but she said it will help others.

"That’s awesome, that would be honestly so much more helpful," she said.

"It’s nice, yeah it is nice because it’s just becoming such an everyday part of life, having to get tested on this, so it can get pricey," said Roberts.

All of this of course depends on finding a test at all.

Starting Wednesday, Jan. 19, the Biden administration will roll out a website where you can order at home tests delivered for free.

For more information on insurance reimbursement click here: CMS.GOV

To get home tests delivered to your home starting Wednesday click here: COVIDtests.org

How to get at home COVID tests reimbursed or delivered for free