How to use the government’s free coronavirus tests for international travel | Coronavirus

When the Biden administration started handing out free coronavirus tests, the special deliveries didn’t help international travelers qualify to enter the United States because they didn’t offer the option of testing under virtual supervision. or receive a report to show border officials. As is the case with many things during the pandemic, that changed within months.

Depending on the brand of free test you receive, you may be able to use it on your next international trip, after all.

I did this on my recent return from Costa Rica, and the whole arrangement felt like I discovered a travel tip that saved me time, stress, and a bit of joy. ‘money. Here’s how it works.

– What tests work for US travel restrictions

To meet CDC requirements to enter the country, travelers can book an in-person test at a pharmacy, hire a professional to administer a test at their hotel, or bring an approved self-test on their trip to perform with a telehealth monitor. on a video call.

Self-tests that can be purchased without a prescription and performed without a proctor are not accepted for travel within the United States, but manufacturers such as Floflex, Detect and On/Go are now selling additional video telehealth services to make testing compliant with the CDC.

The free tests I received from the government were from iHealth. For $24.99, I could purchase their service to have a virtual meeting with a telehealth proctor to verify my test and issue a digital report with the results. (In the past, I’ve spent around $70 on a two-pack of the popular BinaxNOW tests that include video monitoring.)

The government has contracted several manufacturers to provide free tests, and you cannot choose which brand of test you will receive. This means that you have to wait and see what you get before finding out if yours is selling sitter service online.

– How to order free coronavirus tests from the government

Americans can order free rapid antigen tests through Each U.S. household — which includes people living overseas in diplomatic and military outposts — is limited to eight tests (down from four), regardless of how many people live there. Tests can take a few weeks to arrive, so you’ll want to order them well in advance of a trip.

Anyone who can’t order online or needs help with the process can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY: 1-888-720-7489) from 8 a.m. to midnight ET. Is for help in over 150 languages.

If you have already used your free government test, another way to subsidize your travel test costs is to take out insurance. Since January 15, private insurers have been required to cover the cost of eight over-the-counter home tests per individual per month.

According to the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website, “Insurance companies are required to reimburse you for up to $12 per individual test.” Once you have purchased a test, go online and purchase the telehealth supplement from the manufacturer to get it approved internationally. (Be sure to read the fine print for reimbursement details from your insurance company before purchasing your test.)

– What you need to bring for the test

Each testing company will have their own rules, but for my iHealth test, I was not allowed to use a tablet or smartphone to make the video call. So, in addition to testing, I had to pack my laptop. For some vacationers, this might be a annoying request, but it’s still a good idea to bring one in case you catch the coronavirus while traveling and need to work remotely.

If you don’t want to bring a computer, you can see if your hotel or Airbnb has one that meets iHealth’s requirements: access to the Google Chrome browser, a working microphone, and a front-facing camera.

For your peace of mind, you might want to prepare a backup test in case something goes wrong with your first one (i.e. you get a false positive, lose it, or damage it).

– How does it feel to take it

I booked my iHealth video appointment a few days in advance to get one that fit my travel schedule. The process was simple and straightforward, taking only a few minutes. The company sent confirmation emails for the purchase and appointment reminders, including one within an hour of the test with a link to the video call.

My Airbnb had a reliable wifi connection which worked throughout the testing process: greeting the attendant (who was not visible to me, I could just hear his voice), opening the package, preparing and passing my test, then wait 15 minutes for the results. to be confirmed by another supervisor. Within seconds of reviewing my results, the proctor sent me a report and a QR code to show the airline (or in my case, upload to the VeriFly app, per American Airlines requirements).

Only one of our four travel groups encountered a glitch during their testing process. While it didn’t take long for most of us to connect to an invigilator to check our results, he was stuck for about half an hour on an iHealth page saying they were connecting him to a supervisor. We finally refreshed the page and he was immediately put in touch with someone.

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