coronavirus testing

COVID-19 Rapid At-Home Test Kits Coming Soon

Where to get one, how much they cost and how they work

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It will soon be easier to find out whether you have COVID-19 without ever leaving the comfort of your home or sending a swab specimen to a lab. The first at-home COVID-19 test kit is expected to be available in stores and online this month, and two others are close behind.

The Food and Drug Administration gave an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the companies Ellume, BinaxNow, and Lucira. The FDA uses its EUA to allow unapproved medical products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases. 

The at-home tests will either be antigen or molecular. Knowing the difference can help you decide which test you prefer.

Antigen Tests

According to the FDA, antigen tests usually provide results diagnosing an active coronavirus infection faster than molecular tests, but antigen tests have a higher chance of missing an active infection. If an antigen test shows a negative result, your health care provider may order a molecular test to confirm the result.

Molecular Tests

Also known as RT-PCR tests, molecular tests detect the virus’ genetic material. According to the FDA, the test is typically highly accurate and usually does not need to be repeated.

At-Home Tests with an EUA

Ellume COVID-19 home test

  • Antigen test
  • Does not require a prescription
  • Nasal Swab
  • Sample is analyzed using a Bluetooth device connected to your smartphone
  • Results in 15 minutes
  • Safe for ages 2+
  • $30
  • Available in January
  • Can be bought online and in pharmacies and drug stores

BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test

  • Antigen test
  • Users download NAVICA app
  • Patients fill out a questionnaire to determine eligibility for a prescription (takes less than 24 hours)
  • Test sent once approved
  • Log on to a portal for virtually guided step-by-step instructions in real time
  • Nasal swab
  • Sample inserted into test card, which displays results
  • Results in 15 minutes
  • Safe for ages 4+
  • $25
  • Available sometime this year

Lucira COVID-19 All-in-One Test Kit

  • Molecular test
  • Prescription required from your health provider 
  • Users receive test unit and sample vial
  • Nasal swab
  • Results in 30 minutes
  • Safe for ages 14+
  • Available spring 2021

Health Insurance Covers At-Home Tests

Health insurance providers cover the full cost of any test that is recommended by a health care provider, including at-home tests. If you use an over-the-counter version and your plan won’t cover it, you can use your flexible spending account, if you have one. Just remember to save your receipt when you submit your claim for reimbursement.

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