COVID-19 cases are higher than they have ever been in the United States. We know this is a really challenging time with confusing, often conflicting messages from national leaders and institutions. The USFWC is in solidarity with our members and the workers that make up our powerful community. We all deserve more.
We want to share some simple tips and guidance for how to make the most of the resources that are available to us during this difficult time. This is part of our Worker Benefits Program, which exists to support healthcare and other benefits access for USFWC members.
Our three best tools for keeping our communities safe and reducing the spread and severity of COVID-19 are vaccines, testing and wearing masks.
Recently, the federal government has created new pathways to receive rapid COVID tests:
- Order your household’s free home rapid tests. Order four free home rapid test kits easily at this link: https://special.usps.com/testkits If you live at an address with more than one unit or apartment, put the unit/apartment number in the first address line. Currently, each household can only receive four free tests.
- Get reimbursed by your insurance company for home rapid tests you buy at a pharmacy or online. Every insurance company is going to do this a different way, and they are probably not going to make it very simple. As of January 15, insurance companies are required to cover the costs of eight (8) home rapid tests per enrolled person per month. So if your insurance plan covers you, your partner, and two children (4 people), your household could receive reimbursement for 32 tests per month.
To get reimbursed:
- Buy at-home rapid tests and save the receipts.
- Ask your insurance company or workplace for a reimbursement form. Doing a web search for “[your insurance company name] reimbursement form” will likely provide you with the forms you need.
- Fill out the form completely.
- Mail, email, or fax the form to the address provided.
- Receive a check in 4-8 weeks.
Later this year, insurance companies may develop systems so you can get the covered tests through approved pharmacies with no upfront cost. Insurance companies will not reimburse for tests purchased before January 15, and will not reimburse for tests required for work or school routine surveillance testing. It is often easiest to find rapid tests for sale online at large chain stores.
Remember, rapid tests are not 100% accurate, but they are the most accessible tests with quick results. Many rapid tests advise taking multiple tests a few hours or days apart for better accuracy. Always follow the instructions for the specific rapid tests you are using.
Make sure you’re taking other important steps to reduce COVID transmission and severity:
Use a good mask: The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is very easy to catch and spread. Because it is SO contagious, we need to increase preventative measures. Doctors and public health experts around the world are agreeing that the best type of mask to prevent COVID-19 is a high-filtration respirator like an N95, KN95, or a KF94 mask. Cloth masks do not offer good protection against the new variants. Project N95 is a great source for reliable masks.
Get your vaccine and get boosted: Vaccines are safe and effective, and becoming requirements for entry to many public spaces and institutions. It is important to get both doses of your COVID-19 vaccine AND a booster shot. COVID vaccines+boosters are the best way to reduce transmission and severity of COVID-19. Many local health clinics, doctors offices, and pharmacies have COVID-19 vaccines available for free, often with same-day or walk-in appointments. Find somewhere local to get your vaccine wherever you are in the U.S. at vaccines.gov