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  • Members: Get your free at home COVID-19 tests now. Learn more: English / Spanish
  • Important: As of May 1, 2022, Medi-Cal is available to all people who are 50 years of age or older who meet all Medi-Cal eligibility criteria. Immigration status does not matter. These changes also let people keep more property and qualify for Medi-Cal. Contact the Ventura County Human Services Agency for more information. Learn more: English / Spanish

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Free COVID-19 Tests Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For more information about COVID-19 at-home tests and how to get tests for free, view the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below.

FAQs about COVID-19 at-home tests

What is an at-home Covid-19 test?

COVID-19 at-home tests (also referred to as self-tests or over-the-counter (OTC) tests) are one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. At home tests can be taken at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results.

Will my tests come with instructions on how to use them?

Yes. Tests will have instructions on how to use them.

When should I use my tests?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you take an at-home test:

  • If you begin having COVID-⁠19 symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, or
  • At least five days after you come into close contact with someone with COVID-⁠19, or
  • When you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up to date on their COVID-⁠19 vaccines.

For more on when to use at-home tests, see the latest CDC self-testing guidance here.

I am / am not vaccinated. Will these tests work for me?

Yes. The tests work whether or not you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines.

I do not have any symptoms but have been / may have been exposed to COVID-19. Will these tests work for me?

Yes. The tests work whether or not you have COVID-⁠19 symptoms.

After taking the test, how long does it take to get my results?

The test will give results within 30 minutes.

Once I take the test, do I need to drop it off at a lab or doctor’s office?

No. You will receive your results within 30 minutes. The test does not require lab drop-off.

I took a COVID-19 at-home test and it came back positive. What do I do?

A positive self-test result means that the test detected the virus, and you are very likely to have an infection and should stay home or isolate, wear a mask if you could have contact with others, and avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading disease to someone else. You should also notify your primary care provider and any close contacts of your positive test result. For the most up-to-date quarantine information, click here.

I took a COVID-19 at-home test because I was exposed to someone with the COVID-19 virus, and it came back negative. What do I do?

A negative self-test result means that the test did not detect the virus and you may not have an infection, but it does not rule out infection. Repeating the test within a few days, with at least 24 hours between tests, will increase the confidence that you are not infected. If you think your negative test result may be incorrect, contact your primary care provider to determine whether or not additional testing is necessary.

I took a COVID-19 at-home test and it shows invalid or error. What do I do?

Sometimes invalid results or an error can show on the test device. Invalid results or an error can occur for many reasons. Your specimen may not have been collected correctly, or the test may have malfunctioned.

Invalid test results are rare but can occur. If the self-test shows an invalid result or a test error, the test did not work properly. If this happens, refer to the instructions for use in the package insert and contact the manufacturer for help.

FAQs about COVID-19 at-home tests from the pharmacy at no cost

Will Medi-Cal cover COVID-19 at-home test kits dispensed from the pharmacy?

Yes. As of Feb. 1, 2022, Medi-Cal began covering at-home test kits obtained at pharmacies enrolled as Medi-Cal providers.

Can I go to any pharmacy to get a free at-home test kit?

Medi-Cal only covers test kits obtained from pharmacies enrolled as Medi-Cal providers. To find an eligible pharmacy, click here.

Do I need a prescription to get an at-home test kit from my pharmacy at no cost?

Yes. At-home tests from a pharmacy and covered by Medi-Cal Rx require a prescription. You can get a prescription from the pharmacist when you request your test.

How do I get a prescription for an at-home test from my pharmacy?

The pharmacist can write you a prescription for an at home test when you go to get them.

Is there a limit of how many at-home test kits I can get from the pharmacy?

Yes. Each Medi-Cal member is allowed up to eight test kits (or four test kits that include two separate tests each) per month at no charge.

I purchased an at-home test kit before Feb. 1, 2022. Can I get reimbursed?

Yes. Members who purchased an at home test kit between March 11, 2021, and January 31, 2022, can get reimbursed for the retail cost with a receipt. For more information, click here.

FAQs about free COVID-19 at-home tests by mail

Who can order / receive the free COVID-19 at-home test kits from the federal government?

Tests are available for every household in the U.S.

How can I order my free COVID-19 test kits?

Tests can be ordered online here. All you need is your name and home address. No ID, credit card, or health insurance information is required. You may also share your email address to get updates on your order. Tests will typically ship within 7-12 days after ordering.

What will be included in my package?

Each order includes four rapid antigen tests and instructions.

Do I need to pay for the at-home COVID-19 tests?

No. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order eight free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free.

Should I wait to order the free COVID-19 tests until I think I or a family member has been exposed to COVID-19?

No. You should order your tests now, so you have them when you need them.

How many tests can I order?

To promote access to everyone, the initial program only allowed for four free individual tests per residential household. As of March 7, 2022, each household is allowed to order an additional four free tests (eight tests in total).

If I have already ordered my four free COVID-19 tests, do I need to wait to order my second set?

No. You can order them at any time.

If I have not already ordered my four free COVID-19 tests, can I order eight (two packs of four) at once or do I need to wait to get my first round of kits?

You do not have to wait to receive your first order of test kits to order your second set. You can order your household’s additional four tests right after ordering the first four. You will complete two separate orders and get two separate packages.

Can I order more than eight tests if I live in a large or multigenerational household?

No. To promote access to everyone, the program only allows eight free individual tests per residential household.

You can also get a free COVID-19 test at locations across Ventura County, including pharmacies, pop-up clinics and testing sites. For more information, click here.

How will my tests be shipped and when will they be delivered?

Tests will be delivered in the mail through the U.S. Postal Service. All orders within the continental U.S. will be sent through First Class Package Service. Tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering.

Can I track my order?

Yes. There is an option for you to provide an email address to receive email notifications with shipping updates. Once your order is shipped, you will receive an email with an estimated delivery date and a tracking number. You can track the status of your delivery here.

Can I pick up my tests somewhere or have them held at my local Post Office instead of getting them shipped to my home?

No. This program is designed to send free tests to your home through the mail.

I ordered my tests, but they have not been delivered. Who do I contact?

To get help with a delivery issue, contact USPS here.

Can I choose what type or brand of test I get?

No. All tests distributed as part of this program are FDA-authorized at-home rapid antigen tests.