The federal government has officially launched a program requiring health insurance companies to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 testing kits. The new plan also means eligible Americans, who have paid for at-home testing kits, can be reimbursed for their purchases.

Beginning Saturday, private insurance companies will be required to cover the cost of over-the-counter tests at up to $12 each test. 

Consumers will have the option to either order tests online for free or purchase a test in-store and submit receipts to their insurance company for reimbursement.

Those who have already purchased at-home COVID testing kits will need to keep their receipts in order to submit them to their insurance company for a refund.

“This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost,” Xavier Becerra, Health and Human Services Secretary, previously said in a statement.

“By requiring private health plans to cover people’s at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans’ ability to get tests for free when they need them.”

Despite the option for a refund, consumers may not receive their money back immediately. ABC 7 NY reported insurance companies will reportedly need to put a new system in place before refunds can begin. 

“Keep that receipt and you’ll be reimbursed for that purchase,” said Kim Keck of Blue Cross Blue Shield. “I just think it’s going to be potentially a little bit bumpy here in the next, maybe even several weeks.”

In December, President Joe Biden announced plans for the insurance companies to cover the cost of at-home testing kits. 

However, it wasn’t until last week that officials revealed starting Jan. 19, Americans will be able to order free at-home COVID-19 testing kits online. Delivery is expected to take between seven to 12 days.

covid testing Pictured is someone getting a COVID test. Photo: AFP / STR