Pharmacies Dial Back Free COVID Tests

Pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS locations, that until recently offered free COVID tests, are now charging for the service.

Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso said the company is offering COVID-19 testing at no cost to eligible patients with most insurance and government assistance plans. He said when the company started taking insurance information varied by location, and that the company is providing the cost information in the event a health plan may not cover a test.

“Patients should not have any out-of-pocket costs, but we recommend they check with their health plan before scheduling a test,” Caruso said.

CVS currently advertises $0 out-of-pocket costs with insurance or enrollment in a federal program for the uninsured, but charges $139 for tests for those who don’t meet those conditions, according to its website.

Walgreens is now charging $129 for the ID NOW and PCR tests and $49 for the BinaxNOW tests, which the company does not offer in Connecticut. Walgreens offers the rapid ID NOW tests in Middletown, Torrington and Orange, and the PCR diagnostic tests at four locations in Fairfield County, and one in East Hartford.

The website to make an appointment for a Walgreens-administered test now asks users for health insurance information after they select a time for their test appointment. There is a box to check if you do not have insurance, and it warns that “you may receive a bill from Walgreens or the laboratory.”

The website has always asked for basic identifying information before taking users through a survey asking if they have had any symptoms or been exposed to someone with COVID, but did not ask for insurance information until some time in the last two weeks of November. 

No out-of-pocket costs with insurance, free options still available

Private insurers and HUSKY Health will not charge out-of-pocket costs for people with symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone who does not have symptoms, a doctor’s order for a test, or live in an area where the local public health authority has recommended that everyone be tested, should check with their insurance provider to make sure the test will be covered, according to the state website.

There are also no-cost options available for testing. Community Health Center is holding free drive-through or walk-up testing in Middletown, Meriden, Old Saybrook, New London and Groton, and other locations throughout the state.
Other free testing locations can be found on the state’s website.

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