COVID-19 tests: What to know about private and public testing

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, more people are being tested.

Harris County and the city of Houston have three free testing sites, but there are also private testing sites.

READ ALSO: Harris County to increase Coronavirus testing

Some area hospitals and clinics are able to test for the virus and most health insurance companies should cover it, whether you've met your co-pay or not. The test should also be covered under Medicare and Medicaid.

But for the private testing, as with the public testing, you must either be a first responder or healthcare professional, experiencing symptoms, or be considered 'high-risk'.

COVID-19 tests conducted at urgent care centers may consist of a different process, depending on your insurance.

What is the difference between private testing and city and county testing?

The public testing sites supplied by FEMA are free, but the testing is just the final step in the entire evaluation process.

You must start by visiting ReadyHarris.org and taking the online questionnaire. From there, a person may be told they don't require a test or they may be referred to a call-in center where a health professional will evaluate them further over the phone.

READ MORE: Here's a step-by-step guide to new COVID-19 self-assessment tool

A private testing site is supplied by private labs. Insured patients should call their doctor's office and ask about the procedure for private testing.

If I'm told by doctor to go to a private testing site, will my insurance cover it? If not, how much is the cost?

Most health insurance companies should cover it, whether you've met your co-pay or not. The test should also be covered under Medicare and Medicaid.

Urgent care clinics will charge for tests, though the prices may vary. Health officials suggest calling your doctor first and not just showing up to their offices.





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