Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Image of Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test. Click to open a larger version of the image. 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 | 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...

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Article
4/28/2022
Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Article
4/25/2022
Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Article
4/18/2022
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Two new studies of active-duty service members show COVID-19 booster vaccines are effective, but uptake rates in the military community lagged behind the civilian population.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

Video
4/15/2022
Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, on days that end in ‘6.’ It includes the latest information about DOD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 Made the Military Medical Community Stronger

Article
3/21/2022
Image of a service member being treated

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the military medical community stronger and will help when confronting the next crisis, whether that’s another pandemic, a new conflict or natural disaster

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Responses Underscore Importance of Patient Safety

Article
3/14/2022
Every day, patient safety is one of the top priorities for the Defense Health Agency. Patient safety means providing ready, reliable care to service members, veterans, and dependents no matter the circumstances. (Photo: Defense Health Agency)

Patient safety is a topmost concern of MHS, and Patient Safety Awareness Week 2022 focuses on Ready, Reliable Care.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety | Patient Safety Awareness Week | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Patient Safety Awareness Week

Defense Department Announces Distribution of COVID-19 Tests for Military Beneficiaries

Article
2/25/2022
A Soldier assigned to the Connecticut National Guard helps load a shipment of at-home COVID-19 testing kits into a truck at a regional distribution point in North Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 3, 2022. These kits were picked up by representatives from local towns and municipalities to be handed out to their communities.

The Department of Defense will offer at-home COVID-19 tests for military beneficiaries at military hospitals or clinics, on a supply available basis, in the coming weeks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 40

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.