News | Sept. 28, 2021

Need a COVID-19 Test? Here’s What You Need to Know

By TRICARE Communications

As the highly contagious Delta variant spreads, it’s now more important than ever to protect yourself and your family. Getting vaccinated is the number one way you can do this, along with mask wearing, social distancing, and washing your hands. Another critically important step is knowing when and how to be tested for COVID-19. Here’s some information about the testing eligibility and process.  
 
Does TRICARE cover COVID-19 tests?
It depends on who you are and your situation. 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 to be medically necessary. This means that the test is recommended as appropriate, reasonable, and adequate for your condition. A provider must also administer your test at a TRICARE-authorized lab or facility for TRICARE to cover it. To find a TRICARE network provider who can perform a COVID-19 test, visit Find a Doctor to search the provider directory. Or find a military hospital or clinic near you.
 
TRICARE also covers an at-home COVID-19 test if it’s medically necessary as determined by a TRICARE-authorized provider. You must use an FDA-approved test and a TRICARE-authorized provider must order or refer you for the test. Keep in mind, if you buy an at-home test without medical necessity, TRICARE won’t cover it.
 
What happens if your employer requires that you get a COVID-19 test?
If you receive a test that isn’t primarily intended for the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19, TRICARE won’t cover it. 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. Reach out to your TRICARE contractor if you have any questions about testing coverage.
 
When should you get a COVID-19 test?
Health care professionals use a COVID-19 viral test to check if you have a current infection. Not everyone needs a test. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you get tested for COVID-19 if:  
“Anyone who’s been in close contact to a person with COVID-19, or is experiencing signs and symptoms of the virus, should be tested, regardless of their vaccination status,” said Lt. Col. Scott Robinson, a public health physician within the Public Health Division at the Defense Health Agency. “It is crucial that people know their status so they can avoid infecting others, especially with the higher rate of transmission we’re seeing from the Delta variant.”
 
For health and safety reasons, don’t show up at a hospital or clinic and ask for a test. Instead, contact your health care provider if you believe you need to be tested. They’ll order a test for you based on your exposure risk, symptoms, travel history, or other factors based on their clinical judgment and CDC guidelines.
 
What happens after you take a COVID-19 test?
According to CDC guidance, “If you get tested because you have symptoms or were potentially exposed to the virus, you should stay away from others pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional.” Your test results will determine what actions you’ll need to take.
  • If you test positive, follow these protective steps to prevent others from getting sick.
  • If you test negative, you most likely weren’t infected at the time your sample was collected. Remember, the test result only means you didn’t have COVID-19 at the time of testing. You should continue to take steps to protect yourself.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet. You have a critical role to play in slowing the spread of the virus and keeping you, your family, and others safe. Continue to practice healthy habits. For more on COVID-19 testing, visit the CDC website and go to the TRICARE COVID Testing Coverage page.

At the time of posting, this information is current. Visit www.cdc.gov or TRICARE COVID Guidance for the most current COVID-19 information.
The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

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