With Omicron surging through the global population and the need for negative test results to travel or return to work or school, people are finding themselves shelling out hundreds of dollars to get a test.
Even though the general rule is that your insurance should cover the cost of testing, supplies are limited and testing sites are scheduling appointments weeks out.. Pharmacies are posting signs that there are no tests available.
So what do you need to do to get a COVID test for travel these days? Read on.
If you need a test to reenter the US after an international trip, you’ll need a very specific type of test taken within a very specific time. To enter the US (no matter your citizenship or vaccination status), you’ll need:
Note: The test must be an authorized viral antigen or nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT).
Not all tests are created equal. If you need a test for the peace of mind after potential exposure, just about any test will do.
Here is a list of CDC-approved travel reentry tests available to purchase online:
The current recommendation for international travelers is to have at least two tests per person. If the first test is positive, you have a second test on hand when you’re ready to test again. Plus, you won’t be paying an exorbitant amount to get a test when you need it on time.
Warning: scam websites selling fake tests are popping up all the time. Be sure you’re buying from a recommended website.
Yes you can! Just make sure it’s the right test.
Rapid off-the-shelf antigen tests can provide an initial screening and peace of mind for people visiting family and friends, but it won’t meet the CDC reentry requirements.
For a self-test to meet CDC reentry requirements, it must be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (nucleic acid amplification test or antigen test) authorized by the FDA.
The test must also have an approved telehealth component that provides real-time supervision. You’ll do the test over a Wi-Fi connection with a telehealth representative who will confirm your identity, watch you administer the test, and confirm the results.
You’ll get proof of your results in an app or by email.
Where there’s demand, there’s a scam. If you’ve been looking for a COVID test lately, you know they’re in short supply and scammers have pounced on the opportunity.
Here’s how to be sure the testing site is legit:
Even worse than getting a fake test, some people are getting scammed out of their personal identifying information at these sites. Watch out for testing sites that ask for a social security number, credit card information, or other health info that can be used to steal and sell your identity.
Just this week, the US federal government announced that free at-home tests are available. As of this writing, it is unclear whether these particular tests are suitable to stuff in your suitcase and use to reenter the US after a trip abroad.
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Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.