Skip to main content

Military Health System

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Image of Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test. Corporal Jovan Pabon Centelles from Joint Task Force - Puerto Rico performs a COVID-19 test to Specialist Keyleen rentas at Bayamon Regional Hospital, Puerto Rico, Jan. 19, 2022. JTF-PR and the Department of Health of Puerto Rico assembled a health care site to provide medical treatment and COVID-19 testing to ensure the citizens' health and safety. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Carlos Chabert)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | At-Home COVID-19 Tests

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you're up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

"Testing is critically important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Kenneth Yale, interim director of the TRICARE Health Plan. "If you've been exposed to a person with COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should get tested. We encourage TRICARE families to follow currently approved TRICARE requirements for coverage of COVID-19 testing at TRICARE.mil to ensure your test is covered."

Check out the below Q&As for guidance on COVID-19 testing and how TRICARE covers tests.

Q: Can I pick up free at-home COVID-19 tests at a military hospital or clinic?

A: Most military hospitals and clinics are distributing at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to eligible TRICARE beneficiaries. However, check on their availability at your local military hospital or clinic. Your military hospital or clinic can give you up to 8 tests every 30 days. To receive a test, you must visit your military hospital or clinic in person, and be sure to bring your Uniformed Services ID card. Each person who needs a COVID-19 at-home test must visit the distribution site in person. This means one member of the family can’t pick up at-home tests for everyone in their household.

Q: How does TRICARE cover COVID-19 tests administered by a provider?

A: TRICARE will cover your COVID- 19 test and waive the cost of the office visit if a TRICARE-authorized provider or a provider at a military hospital or clinic deems your test medically necessary. The provider can decide you need a test based on your symptoms, exposure risk, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To find a TRICARE-authorized provider who can perform a COVID-19 test, use the Find a Doctor tool. You can also reach out to your local military hospital or clinic directly regarding the availability of COVID-19 testing.

Q: Does TRICARE cover COVID-19 at-home tests?

A: TRICARE covers the cost of COVID-19 at-home tests that are both approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) (which includes tests approved under Emergency Use Authorization) and ordered by a TRICARE-authorized provider for a medically necessary purpose. For example, you're showing COVID-19 symptoms or have known or suspected close contact with a known infected person.

At this time, TRICARE doesn't have authorization to reimburse COVID-19 at-home tests outside of this guideline. These tests are also referred to as self-tests or over-the-counter tests. This means if you buy an at-home test for any reason at retailers or pharmacies without a health care provider's authorization, TRICARE won't cover the cost of the test. However, you have multiple options to obtain free at-home antigen rapid diagnostic tests, as well as other tests like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, through federal and local government entities.

Q: What are other options for getting a free COVID-19 at-home test?

A: As of Jan. 19, you can order free at-home tests through the federal government at COVIDTests.gov. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. Order your free tests now so you have them when you need them. Here's when you should take an at-home test:

  • If you begin having COVID-19 symptoms (for example, fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell)
  • If you come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 (test at least five days after exposure)

Keep in mind, TRICARE will only cover your test if a TRICARE-authorized provider deems the test is medically necessary. If you test positive or negative on your at-home test, follow CDC's guidance for self-testing. And be sure to report positive test results to your provider. This free federal government initiative is just one way for you to get at-home tests. Go to COVIDTests.gov to learn about other resources.

Q: Who should get tested for COVID-19?

A: The CDC recommends that you test for COVID-19 if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and anyone can have mild to severe symptoms of COVID-19. If you come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should also get tested to check for infection. You should test at least five days after you've had close contact with someone with the virus. Check the CDC website for further guidance on who should get a test and who doesn't need a test.

Keep in mind, whether you test positive or negative for COVID-19, you should take steps to protect yourself and others. And follow CDC's recommendations.

Q: What if my job or my child's school requires a COVID-19 test?

A: TRICARE will only cover tests that are medically necessary as determined by a TRICARE-authorized provider. This means TRICARE doesn't cover tests that you may need to return to work, school, travel, or for other similar reasons. You should check with your employer, local or state public health authorities, or other party that's requiring the test for guidance and possible coverage or reimbursement if there's a cost. You can also reach out to your TRICARE contractor if you have questions about testing coverage.

For more on COVID-19 testing and getting care, review guidance on the TRICARE website and CDC website. Remember, get up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines by finding a vaccine or a booster near you. By taking the proper precautions, you can help keep you and others safe.

At the time of posting, this information is current. This article was originally published on Feb. 2, 2022, and was later updated with new information on at-home COVID-19 tests available at military hospitals and clinics. Visit www.cdc.gov or TRICARE COVID Guidance for the most current COVID-19 information.

You also may be interested in...

Supplemental Guidance 10 for Military Medical Treatment Facilities and Military Dental Treatment Facilities Directors in regards to Coronavirus Disease 2019

Publication
7/1/2020

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Communication to ABA Providers Regarding Continued Temporary Authorization to Utilize Telehealth for CPT Code 97156 During the COVID-19 National Emergency

Publication
6/3/2020

TRICARE is announcing the continuation of the temporary exception to policy regarding the use of synchronous telehealth (TH) capabilities (both audio and video) for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Family Adaptive Behavior Treatment Guidance services specifically during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Information for Patients: About TRICARE

Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 9) -Department of Defense Guidance for Deployment and Redeployment of Individuals and Units during the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Publication
5/26/2020

This memorandum provides force health protection (FHP) deployment and redeployment guidance for Service members (including Reserve Component (RC) and National Guard members in a title 10 or title 32 duty status) and DoD civilian employees deploying within and outside the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with references (a) and (b).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Guidance for Commanders on Risk-Based Changing of Health Protection Condition Levels During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Publication
5/20/2020

This memorandum provides guidance for commanders to consider when making decisions to change health protection condition (HPCON) levels as COVID-19 pandemic conditions on and adjacent to our installations begin to improve.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Resuming Elective Surgical, Invasive, and Dental Procedures in Military Medical and Dental Treatment Facilities

Publication
5/19/2020

This memorandum provides guidance on how each Military Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) and Dental Treatment Facility (DTF) may resume elective medical and dental procedures.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Modification and Reissuance of DoD Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 -Travel Restrictions

Publication
4/20/2020

All DoD Service members will stop movement, both internationally and domestically, while this memorandum is in effect. All DoD civilian personnel, and dependents of DoD Service members and DoD civilian personnel, whose travel is Government-funded will stop movement, both internationally and domestically, while this memorandum is in effect.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Benefits Eligibility for 32 USC 502(f) Missions

Publication
4/14/2020

A chart outlining the various Benefits Eligibility for 32 USC 502(f) Missions

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Information for Patients: About TRICARE

Implementation Guidance for Presidential Memorandum, "Providing Federal Support for Governor's Use of the National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 ," Dated April 7, 2020

Publication
4/14/2020

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Memorandum on Providing Federal Support for Governors' Use of the National Guard to Respond to COVID-19

Publication
4/14/2020

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Delegation of Authority for Reserve Component Activation Authorities during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Response

Publication
4/10/2020

This delegation assigns to the Service Secretaries the authority to activate Reserve Component personnel and to modify their orders as needed to employ and retain them for the COVID-19 response.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Authorization to Employ Military Medical Capabilities to Treat COVID-19 Patients

Publication
4/8/2020

Effective immediately, the Commander, U.S Northern Command, is authorized, as he deems necessary and appropriate, to employ military medical capabilities under his operational control to treat patients who have contracted coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Decision Memorandum on TRICARE Implementation of the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act"

Publication
4/7/2020

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Public Law 116-127, Division F, Section 6006(a), limits TRICARE authority to impose copayment or other cost-sharing for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and related provider visits that result in orders for or administration of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, cleared, or authorized diagnostic products. In order for the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to implement, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (ASD(HA)) must acknowledge the self-executing authority of the statute and direct the Director, DHA, or designee, to issue guidance implementing the statutory provisions.

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

DoD Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings

Publication
4/5/2020

Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member's or Service family member's personal residence on a military installation).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Public Health

Policy on Accessions and Accessions Training during the COVID-19 Outbreak

Publication
4/3/2020

The Military Departments must seek ways to maximize accessions in a responsible manner to minimize a reduction in military end strength and the potential deterioration of mid-and long-term readiness and capacity.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Transition of Military Medical Treatment Facilities from Military Departments to the Defense Health Agency during the COVID-19 Response

Publication
4/2/2020

The Department's MTF transition plan is conditions-based. While the transition of MTFs to DHA is continuing, the COVID-19 response requirements are impacting DHA's ability to meet all required conditions. The need for the DHA and MILDEPs to refocus efforts away from the transition to support the COVID-19 response led to questions regarding the future of MTF Transition.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Military Health System Transformation
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 5
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 31, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery