How accurate are at-home COVID-19 test results? How do I get an at-home test? How long will at-home test results take? How much do at-home COVID-19 test kits cost?

PLEASE NOTE: At this time, the Gallatin City-County Health Department does not endorse any at-home COVID-19 tests. Patients who use an at-home test should understand the risks of false results.

As COVID-19 cases surge, we clearly see the strain on our healthcare system. The surge also affects our testing capacity. In Gallatin County, patients can only get COVID-19 tests if they are symptomatic. A lack of testing capacity can be a problem for people who need proof of negative COVID-19 tests to return to work or to travel. 

Scientists are quickly creating vaccines, therapies, and tests for COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for new treatments is usually a long process. During a public health crisis, the FDA can authorize emergency use of treatments to get new medicines to the public quickly. During the current COVID-19 crisis, the FDA has authorized several treatments.

The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 treatments has raised alarms because some had harmful side effects. Similarly, the accuracy of emergency use authorized COVID-19 rapid test recently came under fire because of a high rate of incorrect results 

Recently, the FDA authorized several at-home COVID-19 test kits. Some kits collect a saliva sample, while others use a nasal swab. To get an at-home test kit, patients usually answer a survey on the seller’s website. The seller then mails the buyer a test kit. The buyer collects the sample and ships it back for processing. Buyers usually get their results within one to three days.

At-home test kits range from $109 to $155. Some medical insurance will cover at-home COVID-19 tests if prescribed by a healthcare provider. Buyers may have to pay up-front for test kits and submit an insurance claim themselves. Anyone purchasing an at-home test kit should review payment options prior to purchase.

If you have tested negative for COVID-19 with an at-home test and you have symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider. The COVID-19 Call Center is also available 7 days a week, from 8 AM to 5 PM. You can reach the Call Center by phone at 406-548-0123 or by email at CallCenter@ReadyGallatin.com.

At-home tests are a new tool in the COVID-19 pandemic. With the strain on COVID-19 testing, at-home tests can give breathing room to our healthcare facilities. In the meantime, COVID-19 prevention remains the same: maintain social distance, wash your hands, wear a face covering, and stay home if you are sick.