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As of April 8, 2021, over 66 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While this is a promising development during the midst of the pandemic, the CDC also warns that there’s an increase in COVID-19 cases, some of which are from new variants.

This means testing remains vital to help reduce the spread of the virus. With the development of at-home coronavirus tests, there are several ways to get tested in the safety and privacy of your own home.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized 10 direct-to-consumer at-home COVID-19 tests.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which warranted a public health emergency, the FDA approved all of these tests under emergency use authorization (EUA).

It’s important to note that tests with a EUA designation have not been officially approved by the FDA.

EUA means that unapproved products can be used during the duration of the public health emergency. But they have not gone through the entire testing and approval process.

“The public can be assured these tests have met our scientific standards for emergency use authorization,” says Jeff Shuren, MD, JD, the director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a recent FDA release.

At-home COVID-19 tests are processed in the same labs used by medical professionals at primary care providers and hospitals, and they are just as reliable and effective.

That being said, it’s important to follow the instructions provided by the test kit provider to ensure the most accurate results.

EverlyWell, for instance, notes that samples must be collected and sent back on the same day. The company also lists a number of reasons why the sample may be rejected, including not being properly sealed.

When it comes to the testing method, at-home tests use either saliva or a nasal swab to collect samples. Studies show that these are equally accurate methods.

It’s also important to note that the current available at-home test kits don’t test for antibodies. These are all molecular tests and are only used to test for current infections.

If a physician has not ordered an at-home test for you, you can go to the provider’s website and order one yourself.

The website will require you to fill out an intake survey, which includes a few questions about your health. The provider’s own physician will review your answers to determine if you could potentially be at risk or if you’re currently showing signs of symptoms.

Once they determine your eligibility, they’ll issue a test to be sent to you.

Most of the test kits require payment upfront, though some offer insurance options or financial assistance.

Depending on which at-home test kit you choose, you will either collect a saliva sample or nasal swab.

Once you’ve collected your sample, you’ll need to ship it back to the provider as soon as possible, either by mail or at a designated drop-off location. Most test kits provide prepaid shipping labels to make the process seamless.

Results typically take a few days and are delivered digitally. Some providers also offer virtual consultations, either during the collection process or to review the results.

When choosing at-home COVID-19 tests, we kept the following in mind:

  • methods used for collection
  • ease of the collection process
  • how quickly results come back

To select the best, we read various research studies and dozens of reviews.

Pricing guide

Some insurance plans cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests. Unless otherwise noted, the prices here reflect out-of-pocket costs.

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$120
  • $$$ = over $120

Best overall

EverlyWell

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: Nasal swab
  • Results: 1–2 days

EverlyWell was one of the first providers to offer FDA-authorized (EUA) at-home COVID-19 tests.

The diagnostics company offers more than 30 types of at-home test kits, including a COVID-19 home collection kit that can test for symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19.

Collection requires a lower nasal swab that only needs to be inserted one inch into the nose.

You’ll receive results within 1 to 2 days after the lab receives your sample. Results are available in both digital and print.

EverlyWell’s test is FSA and HSA eligible. EverlyWell can also provide an itemized receipt for insurance reimbursement.

Customers who used EverlyWell’s test kit appreciate the simple instructions and praise the thorough communication throughout the process.

Best nasal test

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: Nasal swab
  • Results: 1–3 days

LetsGetChecked offers a wide range of health tests including its at-home COVID-19 test.

This test uses a gentle lower nasal swab to collect a sample and includes easy-to-follow instructions with the kit.

Once you’ve completed the test, you can use the prepaid shipping label to send the test back. You can track your test in real time and receive SMS or email updates about where it’s at in the process.

A medical professional at LetsGetChecked will review your test and even go over your results with you.

Customer reviews cite virtual support as something that made the process more informative and pleasant.

LetsGetChecked can provide an itemized receipt for insurance reimbursement.

Best saliva test

Phosphorus

  • Price: $–$$
  • Collection method: Saliva sample
  • Results: 1–2 days

Phosphorus was one of the first at-home test providers to receive emergency authorization from the FDA, and it continues to provide quick and accurate results through its RT-qPCR saliva test.

The genomics company claims their test has a sensitivity of 97.1 percent and a specificity of 98.2 percent.

Phosphorus is also transparent with their pricing. Their test kit is $119 without insurance or $49 with insurance. They also offer a financial assistance program.

Best for self-collection

Hims & Hers

  • Price: $$$
  • Collection method: Saliva sample
  • Results: 3–5 days

The process for getting an at-home COVID-19 test through Hims & Hers starts with a short questionnaire on their website.

You then have to consult with one of their providers to determine if you should take the test, depending on your symptoms.

Hims & Hers requires upfront payment before they send the test kit.

The test involves a non-invasive saliva sample, which makes it one of the easiest self-collection test kits.

The tests are then processed at Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory at RUCDR Infinite Biologics at Rutgers University.

Results are available to view in your Hims & Hers online account within 3 to 5 days.

Best for uninsured

Pixel by Labcorp

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: Nasal swab
  • Results: 1–2 days

Pixel by Labcorp is the most accessible at-home COVID-19 test — and the only test that doesn’t require an upfront payment. In fact, you don’t even need to be insured to get this test.

If you choose to take their intake survey, you have the option to have Pixel file with your insurance or, if you’re eligible, use federal funds to cover the test. You can also opt to skip the survey and pay upfront.

Once you receive the kit within 2 days, the test involves a simple nasal swab.

You’ll receive results within 1 to 2 days digitally. A clinician is also available for a free consultation with those whose test results are positive or undetermined.

Best for fast results

Picture by Fulgent Genetics

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: Nasal swab
  • Results: 2 days

Powered by Fulgent Genetics, the Picture COVID-19 nasal swab test is a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). The testing process for this at-home test is fast.

After taking an eligibility screening, Picture will send you a test kit through FedEx 2-day shipping.

Your secure digital report will be available in your online portal within 48 hours after Picture receives your sample. You can also schedule a telehealth consultation to go over your results.

While Picture requires upfront payment, you can contact your health insurance provider about reimbursement.

Best for privacy

Vitagene

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: Saliva sample
  • Results: 3 days

Partnering with RUCDR Infinite Biologics, Vitagene offers saliva test kits for at-home collection. They provide results through their health platform 1health.io.

After ordering your test kit online, Vitagene will deliver it to you within 2 to 3 days.

Once your kit is registered on 1health.io, simply follow the instructions, and you’ll have your results within 72 hours.

Vitagene requires payment upfront, and they accept HSA and FSA as payment.

Vitagene does not file insurance claims. However, it may be possible for your doctor to prescribe the test.

When should I order a test?

You should order a test as soon as you start feeling symptoms, and especially if you don’t want to risk exposing anyone else by getting tested at an in-person site.

Most providers take a few days to ship the collection kit and at least a couple of days to deliver results. Keep this timeline in mind when you’re ready to order a test.

All the at-home tests listed here require you to answer a few questions about your health to determine your symptoms. This is also to prioritize those who have been exposed or are showing symptoms.

If you’re experiencing severe symptoms, it’s best to seek emergency attention or go to an in-person facility.

Are tests accurate?

At-home COVID-19 tests are generally as accurate as in-person tests.

Even though at-home test kits are processed in the same labs that professional medical providers use, there’s no guarantee that there won’t be any errors.

It’s important to follow the test provider’s detailed instructions for collection as well as the shipment process to ensure accuracy.

If you receive an error in your at-home test results, the CDC recommends contacting the manufacturer and consulting with your primary care provider.

Are tests covered by insurance?

Most at-home tests require payment upfront. Pixel by Labcorp is the only at-home test kit that doesn’t require payment upfront.

Other tests, such as Phosphorus, offer financial assistance or work with your insurance to cover some costs.

You can also contact your health insurance to see if they’ll reimburse you for the cost of the test. Some test kit providers, like EverlyWell, can also provide an itemized receipt for insurance reimbursement.

If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or you were recently exposed to someone who showed symptoms, it’s important to get tested.

At-home coronavirus tests are a safe and effective way to get tested without visiting an in-person site and potentially compromising your own or someone else’s health.

Sam Lauron is a freelance lifestyle writer based in Austin, TX. When she’s not writing about wellness, creativity, or personal development, she spends her time reading, listening to true crime podcasts, and soaking up the sunny Austin weather with her partner and their dog. Connect with her on Instagram or Twitter, or by visiting her website.