The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles County Department of Health Services announce a shift in availability of widespread free COVID-19 testing as COVID-19 moves beyond crisis mode. L.A. County, California, and the nation have entered a less turbulent phase of the pandemic and therefore our County is moving COVID-19 testing beyond crisis mode and allowing our County’s established health care systems and providers to take a larger role in providing COVID-19 testing for their patients, just as they do for other conditions.
This move comes as the federal government has stopped providing money to fund coronavirus tests for individuals who lack health insurance. Federal regulations require health insurers to cover FDA-approved COVID-19 diagnostic tests at no out-of-pocket-cost to the insured. As a result, limited available funds for free testing in L.A County will be focused on providing access to testing for County residents who are uninsured. L.A. County residents with insurance can still access community sites through the County but must provide their insurance information to secure and receive a PCR test.
“At the height of the pandemic, our publicly funded testing sites provided critical support serving residents regardless of their insurance status to help end the crisis we were facing,” said says Board of Supervisors chair, Holly J. Mitchell. “Now that we have reached this promising stage in the pandemic where we are beginning to return to a sense of normalcy, residents with insurance are encouraged to use testing options covered by their health insurer. This is an important step as we continue to assess where our resources are needed most and provide free COVID testing to those who rely solely on the County for their health care.”
Over the last two years due to the urgent nature of the COVID-19 crisis, L.A. County offered free testing to everyone. Even those who had health insurance often chose to go to the free County Community Testing sites because it was faster and more convenient.
However, as the access and availability of COVID-19 testing has improved, insured individuals now have many other options when it comes to getting tested for COVID-19, including notably their personal provider, sites offered through their health plan, as well as a variety of retail pharmacies. Those who are insured should prioritize testing through their personal provider as helps facilitate high quality continuity of care. Those with insurance should contact their health care provider or their health plan to get connected with testing resources. Individuals with insurance coverage are also eligible to receive up to eight antigen tests per month at no cost; information on how to receive these tests or how to be reimbursed for tests purchased out of pocket is available through one’s health plan. L.A. County residents with insurance can still access community sites through the County but must provide their insurance information to secure and receive a PCR test.
The County’s Community Testing sites, including participating libraries, will continue to serve community members without health insurance, regardless of immigration status. Individuals without insurance are encouraged to visit Community Testing sites as needed to receive a free PCR test with no out-of-pocket charges. All PCR tests offered through the County’s Community Testing sites are EUA-approved for COVID-19 testing. For more information and list of participating testing sites please visit: covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/.
All individuals in L.A. County are still strongly encouraged to seek coronavirus testing if they have COVID-like symptoms or if they have been around anyone with COVID-19. Testing remains an important tool in combatting the spread of COVID-19. Testing quickly after developing symptoms or being exposed can help identify those who are infected and need to isolate, thus preventing further transmission in our community. While test positivity in L.A. County remains low and COVID-19 hospitalization numbers remain stable, working together to continue combating the transmission of COVID-19 remains a top priority.
L.A. County will also continue to make at home testing kits available via mail for seniors and persons with disabilities unable to travel to test sites.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our publicly funded health response must transition to fit this new reality by prioritizing resources for community members who need them most,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services director. “We have seen COVID-19 affect our most disadvantaged and under-resourced communities disproportionally throughout the pandemic. It is our obligation to ensure that the County’s available resources be prioritized for those who lack other options and whose health and communities may be harmed without free access to testing.” .
The L.A. County Community Testing sites found on the website are for those individuals who have symptoms or believe they have been exposed to COVID-19. Testing sites found at covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/ will continue to offer:
– Free COVID-19 testing to the uninsured
– Free tests regardless of immigration status
– Free test using a EUA test or Lab developed test approved by the FDA
– Testing sites will also provide tests for insured individuals who can provide accurate medical insurance information
Individuals seeking to get a routine COVID-19 test as part of an employment requirement, travel or as part of their participation in a sport or other activity should be tested via their provider’s office, employer or school.
L.A. County residents who do not have a doctor should call 211 to get connected to primary care.
For the general community, COVID-19 testing has been observed to be more available in schools, local doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and employers. Private home testing kits are also widely available for use. Insured community members are encouraged to find COVID-19 testing using these resources. Uninsured communities can visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/ to see free community COVID-19 testing sites and hours