What else we considered
The above tests are the ones we find to be the most worth your money considering they’re all highly reliable, offer a fast turnaround, and are covered by insurance or fully reimbursable.
However, different people have different guidelines around what’s important to them, so we’ve gone into the same amount of detail for each test kit below. That way, you have all the information if you are, indeed, considering one of these instead.
Pros: Covered by most insurance; can pay with FSA/HSA card; loose eligibility requirements; fast shipping included; calls with results; saliva test
Cons: Requires you to pay OOP and then get reimbursed by insurance; less accurate than other tests
This test is FDA EUA approved, but the sensitivity is 5,400 NDU/mL on the FDA site, which means it’s not the most accurate. (Although, FWIW, some tests come back at 180,000 NDU/ml so 5,400 is not as awful as it sounds). The test runs $110 out-of-pocket, including overnight FedEx shipping to and from your location. That price should be reimbursable by insurance and you can use your FSA/HSA card to pay.
You do have to answer questions to determine eligibility for receiving the test (including symptoms and exposure), but you’re able to change your answers in order to meet requirements if you so choose.
The main perks of this option: The results are delivered faster than some competitors thanks to the included overnight shipping (under 48 hours as opposed to 72). And the lab will call with the information so you don’t need a smartphone to access results. What’s more, it’s a saliva test, which is more pleasant than a nasal swab.
Pros: Lets you pay with FSA/HSA card; no eligibility requirements; medical consultation included; saliva test
Cons: Not covered by insurance; unconfirmed accuracy
Another high-priced, high-tech option is Vault’s saliva test, which rings in at $119 — and is out-of-pocket or FSA/HSA card only at checkout; you can submit your receipt to get reimbursed by your insurance company.
Vault Health does not screen for eligibility, making it more accessible in that regard. Once you have your kit, your sample collection is physician-supervised via
, which is a nice feature given that some physicians we spoke with say saliva is a difficult sample to collect. When I tested this kit myself, the practitioner on my Zoom call helped with saliva-generating tips, including smelling vinegar or a jar of pickles (the latter did the trick for me — four quick spits and we were on our merry way).
The test is FDA EUA approved, but accuracy data is not reported yet (a rep from the company told Insider that “IBX submitted data for the reference panel and it’s pending review.”). Vault Health’s test ships via UPS, cannot deliver to a PO Box, and must be returned to a UPS location.
Pros: Covered by most insurance; lets you pay with FSA/HSA card; cheaper than others OOP
Cons: Eligibility requirements; unconfirmed accuracy
One of the first available at-home tests, Everlywell provides a nasal swab PCR for patients who meet their eligibility requirements (mild symptoms and/or known exposure). If you have severe symptoms, you’ll be blocked from making a purchase and directed to your healthcare provider.
The test costs $109 out-of-pocket (or using FSA/HSA) but should be reimbursable via insurance. Two-day shipping is free, but the company also offers overnight shipping at $20 extra (overnight shipping back to the lab is then included).
“While a viable option,” says Mick, “consumers have more cost options available than paying $109 out-of-pocket.” Additionally, because there is no data on the NDU/mL, it’s hard to compare this against the others in this category.
Pros: No eligibility requirements; widely available via Amazon
Cons: Unconfirmed accuracy; expensive up-front, out-of-pocket cost
There are two main selling points to DxTerity: It is the first at-home saliva test to gain emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for symptomatic and asymptomatic testing, and it’s being sold on Amazon. Given its availability on the giant retailer, there is no eligibility assessment and you can use your Prime account for shipping.
This saliva PCR test runs $110 (or 10 tests for $1000) and is reimbursable through some (but not all) insurance plans. DxTerity doesn’t list the insurance plans that cover this test but its site says that it is available through participating HSA and FSA plans. Reimbursements need to be filed directly to insurance providers, and the information that’s required is listed at the bottom of the FAQ section on DxTerity’s website. It’s also noted that the American Medical Association set the reimbursement for $100, meaning you won’t be able to recoup the entire $110 price tag.
According to the FDA’s reference panel, this test is 3,600 NDU/mL, meaning it’s not as accurate by comparison to other options in this guide.
Read our full review of the DxTerity test.
Pros: No eligibility requirements, pretty accurate
Cons: Not covered by insurance, expensive OOP
This PCR test is highly accurate, doesn’t have any pre-requisites for purchase, and is easy to use. But it didn’t make our main list because, at $149 entirely out-of-pocket, it’s the most expensive test on the list. (The company is out of network for all insurances; you can submit your purchase receipt to your insurance company but it’s unclear how likely they are to reimburse you for it.)
What’s more, it’s not entirely clear how reliable the speed of results is. The lab says you’ll hear within 24 to 48 hours once it receives the kit. I took two tests and once, this timeline was indeed the case. But the other time, I didn’t hear my results for a full week after I shipped it in; the company later said this was most likely because of winter storms causing shipping delays, so take it as you will. –Rachael Schultz