By late February 2023, 30 rapid antigen tests had earned FDA emergency authorization for at-home use without a prescription. Using these tests frequently—for school attendance, before and after a large indoor gathering, prior to seeing a vulnerable person—can help reduce risk of spreading the coronavirus. For many people, it makes sense to keep at least a few of these tests on hand. Rapid tests were once hard to find, especially during the initial Omicron surge, but now they’re more widely available. For much of 2022 and to date in 2023, all US households have been able to request free tests mailed to their homes.
Below are seven antigen test kits authorized by the FDA that we’ve found to be relatively affordable and that are sold through multiple retailers. We list all FDA-authorized tests available for purchase, including some at-home molecular tests kits, below.
The FDA has identified counterfeit versions of the Flowflex test being sold in the US. Read on for how to check for signs of counterfeit tests and what to do if you suspect you have a fake test.
As of January 15, 2022 (and through early May 2023), private health insurers are required to cover the cost of up to eight at-home tests per person per month. Insurers have been encouraged to set up programs that will allow people to avoid paying out of pocket or having to submit a claim, and you may be able to pick them up directly at your pharmacy at no cost (the pharmacy automatically bills your insurance). If you do buy a test outside your insurer’s preferred network of pharmacies and retailers, you should still be reimbursed for up to $12 per test (you will have to cover the rest of the cost).
For now, you can also order free tests from COVIDtests.gov. Each residential address is currently allocated four tests, no matter the size of the household.
Access to free at-home COVID tests—by mail, from the federal government, or through private insurance—will likely end with the country’s transition out of a state of public health emergency, beginning May 11, 2023. In an interview with The New York Times, Jennifer Kates, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, recommended that eligible folks stock up on free tests while they can.