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Website to order free Covid-19 tests is up and running

<i>John Tully/Bloomberg/Getty images</i><br/>The federal government has quietly launched its website to sign up for free Covid-19 tests
Bloomberg via Getty Images
John Tully/Bloomberg/Getty images
The federal government has quietly launched its website to sign up for free Covid-19 tests

By Kaitlan Collins, Maegan Vazquez and Tami Luhby, CNN

The federal government launched its website to sign up for free Covid-19 tests, allowing people to order a maximum of four tests shipped directly to their household.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Tuesday that the government website to order free Covid-19 tests is up and running.

Have you tried to get a free home test from the federal site? Did it work smoothly or was there an issue? Tell us about it here.

An addition to the FAQ section on says that people can call 1-800-232-0233 if they are unable to access the website or “need additional support placing an order” for free tests.

This is the same number listed on, where people can get help finding a vaccine near them.

For individuals who use text telephone devices, known as TTY, they can use the number 1-888-720-7489.

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

Others, however, flagged that they ran into problems. Several readers said that when they tried to use the site, they were told that tests were already ordered for their address so their request could not be completed. Some live in apartment buildings, but others said they are in private residences and no one else in the household had used the site.

The website notes that it is up and running early to prepare for the full launch on Wednesday. It requests people “check back tomorrow if you run into any unexpected issues.”

Limited capacity

Once shipping information was entered online, the site instructed people that tests would begin shipping in “late January” and the United States Postal Service, which is handling the deliveries, “will only send one set of 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests to valid residential addresses.”

Late last week, administration officials said that once a request is made through the website, the tests are expected to ship 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 piloted and additional details will be available at the end of week, the White House said Tuesday.

The President announced his plan to make half a billion Covid-19 rapid tests available to Americans by mail last month ahead of Christmas, as the Omicron variant was surging across the US.

Now, the variant makes up almost all of US cases.

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

The US is currently averaging 777,453 new Covid-19 cases and 1,797 new deaths per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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

Free home tests from retailers

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

Prescriptions or doctors’ orders won’t be needed, and the tests won’t be subject to copays or deductibles. Insurers must pay for up to eight tests per covered individual per month.

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

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

Many Medicare enrollees, however, are not eligible for the free home tests from retailers. Traditional Medicare covers at no charge Covid-19 testing done in a lab when ordered by a medical professional.

Those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans should check with their insurers to see if the costs of the home tests will be covered.

Americans, however, are having a tough time finding tests to buy at retailers or order online. Scores have written to CNN to complain that they can’t find tests.

This story has been updated with additional details.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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