Free COVID Tests Could Spare Families Major Expense

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That’s how much you could spend on regular COVID-19 tests each year with the cheapest option, according to one analysis—a financial burden the government will lighten by providing free testing kits, the White House said Tuesday.

President Joe Biden’s administration said it plans to respond to a surge in COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant with increased vaccination and testing, rather than lockdowns and restrictions like when the pandemic first hit. The measures include mailing out 500 million rapid at-home COVID-19 testing kits, increasing the number of free testing sites, and accelerating vaccination efforts.

Regular COVID-19 testing can be expensive. Home tests can range from $7 to $38.99 per test, and aren’t always covered by insurance, according to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That means twice-a-week testing for a consumer would cost $728 a year, at least. Regular testing with more expensive options could cost someone up to $4,000 a year, the foundation estimated. Typical costs for a family with two school-age children could be around $500 per month, Kaiser Health News reported in September.

“As omicron spreads easily, especially among the unvaccinated, it’s critically important that we know who’s infected,” Biden said in a speech Tuesday.

Although details about the plan—including how many tests each family will be able to order—have yet to be announced, the administration said starting in January there would be a website where people could order tests for delivery to their homes. 

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