An Update on COVID-19 At-home Over-the-counter Tests

Jan 28, 2022 | 2022, Access

With the current surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and the highly contagious omicron variant, it’s important for people to have at-home over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests on hand for when they need them.

In response to the nationwide shortage of at-home OTC COVID-19 tests available for purchase in stores and online, the federal government recently announced a new resource for families to receive no-cost test kits.

Beginning January 19, people can request free rapid antigen tests, without shipping fees, from the federal government. The federal government will limit the number of tests sent to each residential address to four at-home OTC COVID-⁠19 tests, with shipping estimated in seven to 12 days.

COVID-19 Testing Coverage
Sutter Health Plus members also have coverage for COVID-19 screening at no cost share in accordance with state and federal guidelines during this public health emergency. This includes FDA-authorized at-home OTC COVID-19 tests available for purchase directly through some pharmacies, retailers (such as Target and Costco) or online—where available. Sutter Health Plus limits coverage of at-home OTC COVID-19 tests bought without a prescription or clinical assessment by a provider to eight (8) tests per member, per one-month period. To request reimbursement for at-home OTC COVID-19 tests, members must submit a Member Claim Form. A separate claim form is required for each member requesting reimbursement.

While members can purchase the tests without a prescription or other clinical assessment by a provider, Sutter Health Plus encourages members to contact their primary care physician (PCP) to see if testing is recommended for their particular situation. There are no quantity limits when a treating physician orders a test as part of an individual clinical assessment.

In-person testing capacity is currently limited in many regions due to high demand. While individuals have several options for COVID-19 testing, including licensed retail and community sites, at-home antigen tests are gradually becoming more readily available.  

Health and Safety
It’s important to remember that the best way for individuals to protect themselves and others from serious illness from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and boosted. Especially as those that are vaccinated are much less likely to require hospitalization if they become ill with COVID-19. We also encourage everyone to continue to practice good public health practices and wear a mask when in indoor spaces with others.

Additional Resources
For up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit: