Is the Testing FREE?

Yes, there are no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing. An insured person can get a COVID-19 test when needed by any provider, in or out of their health plan network, at no cost. If you’re uninsured, the government pays for your test.

(SOURCE: Official California State Government Website at https://covid19.ca.gov/get-tested/#cost-for-testing)

Cost for testing

There are no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing at a testing site. An insured person can get a COVID-19 test (this is a pdf file) when needed by any provider, in or out of their health plan network, at no cost. If you’re uninsured, the government pays for your test.

Testing guidance

As vaccinations rise across California, CDPH is adapting testing guidance to focus on:

  • High-risk populations, and
  • Those who are not vaccinated.

Testing provides insights into community prevalence and transmission. It lets us track the introduction of new variants into the community and the evolution of the virus.

In general,

  • Fully-vaccinated individuals do not need screening tests in non-healthcare settings
  • Asymptomatic employees in healthcare settings should still get screening tests. This is true no matter their vaccination status. There are a few exceptions:
    • Facilities may stop routine testing of asymptomatic staff who are fully vaccinated where:
      • More than 70% of residents and more than 70% staff are fully vaccinated in a long-term care facility, or
      • More than 70% of staff are fully vaccinated in an acute health care facility.
    • Facilities may continue routine testing for fully-vaccinated staff with compromised immune systems. Examples are those who have undergone organ transplantation or cancer treatment. These conditions might impact the level of protection provided by COVID-19 vaccine.
  • All individuals with symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested.
  • Testing before entry, admission, competition, or travel:
    • Unvaccinated people should get tested before joining in activities that put them or others at higher risk for COVID-19 exposure. For example:
      • Attending large indoor social or mass gatherings, like:
        • Large private events
        • Live performance events
        • Sporting events
        • Theme parks
      • Competing in high risk sports
      • Attending events in crowded or poorly-ventilated settings

Read CDPH’s Updated Testing Guidance to find out who needs to get tested, when, and how often.

Does my health plan have to cover my COVID-19 test at a testing site?

Yes. Federal guidance requires health plans to provide testing at no cost to everyone. You do not need to have symptoms or to have been exposed to COVID-19. You do not need to be an “essential worker” to get tested.

To get tested you can go to any COVID-19 testing provider authorized or licensed by the state. You do not need to go to a provider that is in your health plan’s or health insurer’s provider network. You do not need to get permission from your health plan or health insurer before going to get a COVID-19 test. And you do not need to pay a co-payment for a COVID-19 test.

What if I don’t have health insurance and I need COVID-19 testing or care?

For the uninsured, the government pays for all necessary COVID-19 testing and care. Check your symptoms using the Symptom Screener or by talking to your doctor.

How long does it take for coronavirus test results to come back?

Turnaround time for coronavirus test results is usually less than two days. About two-thirds come back within a day, and more than 85% are available within two days.

This turnaround time includes shipping time. For labs that process home testing kits, turnaround time depends on when you mail back your kit.

If you haven’t received your test results and it’s been several days, contact:

  • Your healthcare provider,
  • Testing service, or
  • Local health department.

Read more at California’s COVID-19 Testing Task Force.

What is acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result?

The following are accepted:

  • Printed document from your test provider or laboratory
  • An email or text message displayed on your phone from your test provider or laboratory

Results should include name of person tested, type of test, and date of negative test result. For PCR, the date of negative result must be within the prior 72 hours. For antigen, the date of negative result must be within the prior 24 hours.

When can I be around other people after I tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms?

If you continue to have no symptoms, you can be with others after 10 days have passed since your test.

The CDC has recommendations for people who test positive but have no symptoms.

If I test positive for COVID-19 in a viral test, what should I do to protect others in my household?

You should self-isolate from others in your household who have not tested positive. Sleep and stay in a separate room from them, and use a separate bathroom, if possible. Multiple infected people in the same household can use the same room for isolation.

Members of your household should get tested right away. They should quarantine for at least 14 days:

  • Close contacts who never showed symptoms may discontinue quarantine after Day 10 from the date of last exposure without testing.
  • If you are released from quarantine before Day 14 after exposure, you must:
    • Watch yourself daily for COVID-19 symptoms through Day 14. If symptoms occur, immediately self-isolate and get tested.
    • Wear a mask around others, wash your hands frequently, and stay at least 6 feet from others through Day 14.

You do not have to quarantine if:

  • You recovered from COVID-19 within the past 3 months and have no new symptoms.
  • You are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and show no symptoms.