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Where to get at-home COVID-19 test kits today

The government is mailing three tests to all US households, but here's where to buy them if you can't wait or need more.

at-home COVID-19 test
Russell Holly
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

CVS and Walgreens have lifted their limits on how many rapid COVID-19 tests you can buy at once. Many pharmacy chains had limited the number of kits you could buy following outsized demand in January: CVS limited shoppers to six tests at once, while Walgreens allowed for a maximum of four tests per purchase online or in person. Those limitations were removed this week.

"We've worked with our vendors to increase inventory of OTC COVID-19 tests and have removed all product limits on those products," a CVS Pharmacy spokesperson told CBS News.

Last month, the Biden administration launched a website allowing Americans to order four free at-home tests and ordered health care providers to cover the cost of eight COVID-19 tests a month.

Here's how to sign up for four free COVID-19 tests, make sure your test kit isn't fake and get details on the best COVID-19 test kits  

Where can I buy at-home COVID-19 test kits?

Rapid antigen tests are available at pharmacies like Walgreens, Walmart, Rite-Aid and CVS, and via online retailers like Amazon. 

The rapid spread of the omicron variant led to a test-kit shortage in January, and retailers initially placed limits on how many you could purchase in many regions.

Walgreens was allowing each customer to purchase a maximum of four at-home tests, while CVS set kits limit at six. This week, both companies announced they had lifted those maximums

Walmart put no limit on in-store purchases, but capped online buys to eight tests. The company has not responded to a request for comment about test-kit limits.

Retailers with available COVID-19 home test kits

If you feel like you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and want to order online to avoid being in a store, there are a handful of retailers with reliable online stock and quick delivery options. The three most frequently available based on our tracking are Walmart, Walgreens and Target

Note: Use promo code CNET30 during checkout at Let's Get Checked for 30% off your order.

Check local pharmacies online for their current stock of test kits

If you can't get tests delivered to your home in a timely manner and you can't find a free municipal restock, some pharmacies, like Walgreens, will tell you online if there are locations with stock available right now in your area.

If there's no in-store stock listing for your local pharmacy online, you may need to call, but remember to be patient. 

Ask your local health department

Many cities and states also currently offer free COVID test kits for pickup:  To see if your area is one of them, visit your area health department website or check its social media platforms. 

There are usually rules associated with these municipal pick-up areas, like how many can be picked up at a time or confirmation that you live in the area, but these restrictions should be clearly outlined online. 

How to order free tests and get reimbursed for tests you've  bought

Every household in the US can order four free rapid COVID-19 tests shipped to their home via the website COVIDtests.gov.

If you need more, the Biden Administration has mandated health insurance companies cover the cost of eight at-home antigen tests per month, either by fronting the cost at in-network pharmacies or reimbursing members who buy them elsewhere. 

That reimbursement is for $12, which means you may have to pay the difference, depending on what test you buy and from where.

Find the full breakdown of how the insurance coverage and reimbursement process works here. 

Do Medicaid and Medicare cover the cost of at-home test kits?

Initially, Medicare was not included in the White House's insurance mandate for COVID-19 tests. But last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the government-funded program, which provides coverage to almost 63 million Americans, will start paying for home COVID-19 tests in the early spring.

Members will need to purchase their tests at participating pharmacies and retailers. 

Medicaid already covers 100% of the cost of home COVID-19 tests, as does the Children's Health Insurance Program.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.