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Free At-Home COVID Testing Kits Now Available, 'We Need To Take Advantage Of It'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There are new options today when it comes to COVID-19 testing.

CBS 2's Marie Saavedra has more on the new steps to make COVID testing easier.

In a time of long waits and long lines for COVID testing, the at-home option has become the go-to. Then, it became tough to know where to go to get them. With the launch of Covidtests.gov, the Biden administration hopes to fix that.

"For a lot of people, these tests can be really helpful in helping them to figure out whether they have to go wait in that long line for a PCR test or whether it's a good idea to spend the money on that test."

Dr. Emily Landon with University of Chicago medicine applauds the effort she said is long overdue. Originally set to launch Wednesday, CovidTests.gov softly opened Tuesday, requiring a name and residential address in exchange for four free at home tests.

"It's basically just put in your address and click "send me these tests."

Another option is for your insurance to cover some costs for tests you buy. That program started Saturday, but there are rules about which insurance companies will distribute free tests where.

"You've got to check and see what kind of insurance you have and which pharmacy your insurance is working with to be able to go in, present your insurance card and just walk in with a test," Landon said.

On some insurer's websites, like United Healthcare, will list the retailers where tests are free. There you'll also find links for reimbursement if you had to pay up front, like one on the site of Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois. No matter how you do it, Dr. Landon suggests you do get a stash of at home-tests for this wave of the pandemic, and any more to come.

"You really are going to need a lot of tests around, and I think the government providing them is something that's taken way too long for them to do it but now that it's here we need to take advantage of it," Landon said.

There are some isolated reports about glitches with the site enforcing the four tests per address rule, but not taking into account different apartment numbers or other multi-unit buildings.

It's unclear how big that issue is but we'll keep an eye out for updates, and let us know if that glitch happens to you. In the meantime, the orders placed this week should be sent out later this month.

 

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