Government pauses free home COVID tests for September 2

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Time is running out to order free home COVID-19 tests after the government said on its coronavirus website it will pause orders on September 2 or “earlier if supplies run out”.

Why it matters: Consumers should prepare to pay for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines soon as the federal government prepares to shift costs back to health insurers, TSWT’ Arielle Dreher reports.

The big picture: White House Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on Aug. 16 that the Biden administration will stop buying vaccines, treatments and tests as early as this fall, TSWT reported.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services scheduled a meeting Tuesday with drug manufacturers, pharmacies and state health departments to address the changes, the Wall Street Journal reports.
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What they say: “Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, Sept. 2, because Congress has not provided additional funding to replenish the country’s stock of tests,” the COVID testing website says.

Yes but: A senior government official told USA Today the government should keep tests for a possible increase in infections in the fall.

In the meantime, as many as 4.1 million people may be out of work due to prolonged COVID symptoms, according to a new estimate from Katie Bach, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, reports Tina Reed of TSWT.

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Looking back: The home COVID testing program was first launched in January and initially allowed four free tests per residential address, regardless of how many lived in a household. It expanded in March and May.

Order COVID Home Test Kits

Households can order a total of 16 rapid antigen tests from the government through a USPS website.

  • The tests are available for free and are shipped free of charge.
  • If you cannot order through the website, the hotline, 1-800-232-0233.
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Be smart: People with insurance can get eight additional tests per person paid monthly through their health plans or through reimbursement.

Can you use expired COVID tests?

The Food & Drug Administration recently extended the expiration date for several over-the-counter COVID tests that add several months to the expiration date, Melissa Santos of TSWT reports.

  • Check the FDA’s website for a full list of approved COVID-19 tests and their revised expiration dates.

Go deeper: Millions unemployed due to prolonged COVID: Brookings

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