Reimbursement for at-home COVID test becomes available

Bay Area stores are facing a shortage of at-home COVID antigen tests, just as a new policy begins Saturday spurring demand by allowing people with private health insurance to get reimbursed for at-home test kits purchased on or after January 15th.

"I already bought some but if there's free ones I'm going to get some more," said John Song, a San Ramon resident.

Americans with private insurance can get up to eight at-home COVID test kits per family member every month. That means a family of four can obtain up to 32 of the test kits for free.

Getting tests right away, though, could be a big challenge.

Many stores are waiting for supplies to catch up, after a spike in demand as people stocked up for holiday gatherings and travel.

"It's very hard to find. My wife's been looking for some cause my daughter's getting married and people want to test because of traveling," said Bill Boardman of San Ramon, "Being reimbursed doesn't matter if you can't get them."

Some pharmacies say when they have received a shipment of several hundred tests, they sell out within hours.

At NowRX, a pharmacy delivery service in Pleasanton, the pharmacy manager Lily Naanos said they are being flooded with calls from customers checking on supplies.

"Probably 20 calls a day here but even more to other locations," said Naanos, "Our supplier does not have them...they're going to allocate certain amounts for each pharmacy so I don't think you can get just an unlimited supply initially."

The White House is also launching a new website COVIDTESTS.GOV where Americans can order free at-home tests online starting Wednesday January 19th.

President Biden says his administration has doubled the original order to boost federal supplies.

"An additional five hundred million more tests to distribute for free. That will be a billion tests in total," said President Biden.

The White House says that at first, each household will be able to order up to four free tests per address, to ensure there are enough tests for everyone who wants one.

Once you place an order, the tests are expected to ship within 7-12 days through the U.S. Postal Service.




Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or