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By Tami Luhby | CNN

Starting Saturday, many Americans can get home Covid-19 tests at no cost through their private insurance. They can obtain the tests from pharmacies, retailers and online vendors.

The program is part of the Biden administration’s effort to increase access to testing around the US. It will also distribute free home tests, with more information on how to order them coming next week.

Here’s what you need to know about getting free home tests from retailers:

How does this work?

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. So make sure you save your receipts.

The tests won’t be subject to copays or deductibles.

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.

Do I need a doctor’s order or prescription?

No, you will not need to visit a doctor to get the free tests.

How many tests can I get?

Insurers must pay for up to eight tests per covered individual per month. So a family of four could get 32 tests each month, for instance.

What about all the tests I bought before Saturday? Can I get reimbursed for them?

Sorry, but only tests bought starting January 15 qualify.

Where can I find a home test?

Finding home tests is proving challenging in many parts of the country, even as retailers limit the number that can be purchased by one customer.

It’s one reason why the Biden administration plans to distribute free home tests soon. President Joe Biden on Thursday announced he was doubling the number that will be available to 1 billion.

Several states have also ordered home tests to be distributed free to residents, but supplies have been limited.

How do I get one of those free federal tests?

The administration is setting up a website and hotline where people can request the free tests be mailed to them. More information should be available next week, Biden said.

What if I’m on Medicare?

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.

What if I’m on Medicaid?

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, already cover home tests with no cost-sharing.

But enrollees should contact their state agencies for specific coverage details.

What if I’m uninsured?

The uninsured can get free home tests from certain community health centers. They can also request tests through the federal program once it becomes available.

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Also, the Department of Health and Human Services is providing up to 50 million free home tests to community health centers and Medicare-certified health clinics for distribution to patients and the community.

HHS also has established more than 10,000 free community-based pharmacy testing sites around the country.

Additional information about testing for the uninsured is available on hhs.gov.

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LA County supervisor calls for crackdown on fake COVID-19 testing sites

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is renewing a call for a crackdown on fraudulentCOVID-19 testing sites.

Hahn sent a letter to the county Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, asking the agency to monitor pop-up testing sites to ensure people aren't falling victim to fraud.

"It is despicable that people are taking advantage of communities during a deadly pandemic," Hahn said in a statement. "I am directing the county's Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to monitor pop-up testing sites across the county and shut down any sites that are defrauding the public. Testing is one of our most important tools during this pandemic and residents need assurance that they will get accurate test results and their informationwill be protected."

Hahn said six testing sites in South Gate and Bell Gardens were recently found to be fraudulent and shut down by authorities.

Some bogus sites charge people for tests without sending the results and others ask people for their Social Security numbers.

Fraudulent COVID testing sites shut down by officials in South Gate, Bell Gardens
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Officials are shutting down illegitimate COVID-19 testing sites that have popped up in South Gate, Bell Gardens the Southeast Los Angeles area.



Earlier this month, Supervisor KathrynBarger introduced a motion asking county staff to develop an enforcement plan for cracking down on fraudsters as well as an educational campaign to alert the public to the risk and point them to legitimate resources.

"It is imperative that the board ensure residents can be confident that they are receiving an accurate and a legitimate test without risking their private information,"Barger wrote in the motion. "These (fraudulent sites) are popping up on street corners."

Hahn said two new county sites on opened Monday, which will provide people with freeCOVID-19 tests: County libraries at 11320 Bullis Road, Lynwood; and 9001 Mines Ave., Pico Rivera.

Hahn urged people to only go to sites that are legitimate, and a list of locations can be found atcovid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

The Federal Trade Commission sent out an alert this month warning about fake at-home tests being offered online.

The FTC cited theU.S. Food and Drug Administration in warning Americans that "fake and unauthorized at-hometesting kits are popping up online as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the spike in demand."

The FTC offered the following tips:

  • Check the FDA's lists of antigen diagnostic tests and molecular diagnostic tests before buying;


  • Conduct a web search for the seller's name or website along with "scam," "complaint" or "review";


  • Compare online reviews from a wide variety of websites;


  • Pay by credit card so that you can later dispute the charge if necessary.


  • California is also moving against price gougers taking advantage of the surging demand for test kits.

    Gov. GavinNewsom recently signed an executive order that prohibits sellers from increasing prices on at-home test kits by more than 10%.

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