An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Feb. 25, 2022

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

By TRICARE Communications

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.
Passengers board an airplane

How to File Your TRICARE Claims Overseas

News
Jan. 30, 2023

Do you need to file a TRICARE Overseas claim for medical care or prescriptions you received overseas? If so,...
Read More
Service member gets flu vaccine

Protect Yourself From Respiratory Illness This W...

News
Jan. 24, 2023

Fevers and sniffles and coughs—oh my! Viruses like COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are...
Read More
Woman talking on phone

Update Your Other Health Insurance Info for TRICARE

News
Jan. 17, 2023

The new year is here, so it’s important to take stock of your family’s overall health plan coverage. This is...
Read More
A doctor sits at a desk

Start 2023 Knowing Your TRICARE Plan’s Catastrop...

News
Jan. 12, 2023

What will happen if doctor visits, medical tests, or even hospital stays start to pile up this year? How will...
Read More
TRICARE January webinar

Learn What’s New in TRICARE Pharmacy Program at ...

News
Jan. 10, 2023

What do recent changes to the TRICARE Pharmacy Program mean for you and your family? Do you need to take any...
Read More
Cigarettes

Resolve To Quit Tobacco With TRICARE’s Help

News
Jan. 04, 2023

Is quitting tobacco your New Year’s resolution? TRICARE and YouCanQuit2 have resources to help you start—and...
Read More
A serviceman is examined at the doctor's office.

Know These TRICARE Basics To Make the Most of Yo...

News
Dec. 28, 2022

Familiarizing yourself with your health plan is key to making the most of your benefits. Here are some TRICARE...
Read More
TRICARE logo

Changes to TRICARE Expected in 2024

News
Dec. 22, 2022

A new TRICARE contract that facilitates beneficiary health care in the civilian sector, known as T-5, is...
Read More

Jan. 30, 2023

How to File Your TRICARE Claims Overseas

Do you need to file a TRICARE Overseas claim for medical care or prescriptions you received overseas? If so, it’s important to understand the different TRICARE Overseas claim submission methods available to you.

Jan. 24, 2023

Protect Yourself From Respiratory Illness This Winter

Fevers and sniffles and coughs—oh my! Viruses like COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are more common during the winter months. These viruses can cause severe illness in some people, so it’s important to know what to do if you feel under the weather.

Jan. 17, 2023

Update Your Other Health Insurance Info for TRICARE

The new year is here, so it’s important to take stock of your family’s overall health plan coverage. This is especially true when it comes to other health insurance (OHI). You may have had OHI last year, but now no longer. Or perhaps you’ve recently gained or changed OHI. In any of these cases, make sure your OHI information with TRICARE is current so your health care claims are processed accurately.

Jan. 12, 2023

Start 2023 Knowing Your TRICARE Plan’s Catastrophic Cap

What will happen if doctor visits, medical tests, or even hospital stays start to pile up this year? How will it affect your family’s finances? Fortunately, there’s a set maximum amount you’ll pay out of pocket each year for TRICARE covered services. This amount is known as the catastrophic cap, and it resets every year on Jan. 1.

Jan. 10, 2023

Learn What’s New in TRICARE Pharmacy Program at January Webinar

What do recent changes to the TRICARE Pharmacy Program mean for you and your family? Do you need to take any action? Learn more during a webinar, “What’s New in the TRICARE Pharmacy Program,” on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Sign up now to attend.

Jan. 4, 2023

Resolve To Quit Tobacco With TRICARE’s Help

Is quitting tobacco your New Year’s resolution? TRICARE and YouCanQuit2 have resources to help you start—and finish—your journey to be tobacco-free.

Dec. 28, 2022

Know These TRICARE Basics To Make the Most of Your Plan

Familiarizing yourself with your health plan is key to making the most of your benefits. Here are some TRICARE basics to be familiar with.

Dec. 22, 2022

Changes to TRICARE Expected in 2024

A new TRICARE contract that facilitates beneficiary health care in the civilian sector, known as T-5, is expected to start in 2024. The changes will improve the delivery, quality, and cost of health care services for service members, retirees, and their families.

Dec. 21, 2022

4 Changes Coming to TRICARE Pharmacy Program in 2023

As the new year approaches, make sure you’re aware of changes to the TRICARE Pharmacy Program that may affect you. While these changes offer several enhancements, some of the changes may require action on your part. This will ensure you have access to the prescription drugs you and your family members need.

Dec. 15, 2022

Breast Cancer Reminder: Get Your Annual Screening

Breast health and annual mammogram screenings should be your top priorities to protect against cancers and are easier than ever to schedule wherever you are.

Learn More about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Vaccine.