What COVID-19 test reimbursements mean for Central California

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At-home COVID-19 tests are flying off the shelves.

We visited five different pharmacies to find one that had a few left in stock, which they kept behind the counter and limited to one box per customer.

Store employees we talked with say in the last few weeks, every shipment they got sold out quickly.

The Tulare County Health Department says the demand is no surprise since people are returning to work and school.

"They have now found that doing the rapid test is something that can be a confirmatory beginning stage for seeing if you have the virus," says Karen Elliot.

The Biden administration announced at-home rapid tests would be reimbursable starting January 15th.

It's a move that will help thousands in Central California.

"It talks about the ability for people to afford it," Elliot said. "But, you know, we live in a county where you have a poverty level that might be a barrier for those to afford a test kit."

But there are a few things to note about the reimbursements.

You can only get eight tests reimbursed per month.

Insurance companies are being encouraged to partner with pharmacies so you don't have to pay out of pocket.

But if they do and you buy your test somewhere else, you will get only get a maximum of $12 per test, or if you buy a kit with 2, you get $24.

If you spend more, insurance won't cover it.

For people not insured or on public insurance, 50 million free at-home tests were passed out to health centers across the country.

"This is something we received from the state and we are now passing them with community-based organizations to provide the tests," Elliot said.

Later this month, the White House will set up a website where you can request free tests be mailed to you.

Currently, the Tulare County Health Department is not collecting the results of at-home tests.

However, you are recommended to register the answer on the app indicated in the instructions and call your local physician if your results are positive.

School districts in the South Valley handed out thousands of tests for their students in the last few days. Some like Visalia Unified still have plenty left if parents still need to grab one for their children.
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