Some Home COVID-19 Tests Provide Documents You Can Use to Prove You Tested Negative

The kits include 'telehealth' appointments where someone watches you take the test

Woman holding smart phone and self-testing swab for Coronavirus/COVID-19 Photo: Getty Images

With testing facilities overwhelmed by demand amid record caseloads, Americans are scrambling to prove that they’ve tested negative for COVID-19 as more countries, institutions, and venues require the documentation. Most home tests don’t allow you to document the result, but a growing number do. 

Such options involve buying an approved test, then scheduling an appointment with a “telehealth proctor” who watches from afar via a video link on your computer or cell phone and generates an official document of your results. This is different from other home tests that only give you the result on a rectangular strip, much like a pregnancy test. 

More COVID-19 Resources

One such option is Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test, which is sold only online, from either eMed ($150 for six tests, which on the site are called “COVID-19 Ag At-Home Test”) or Optum ($70 for two). These prices include the test kit and remote proctoring. Some airlines offer links to buy the tests, which are not sold at pharmacies.

Confusingly, Abbott also produces a less expensive over-the-counter test called BinaxNow Self Test that does not include the remote proctoring and certification. (An Abbott company official said that in retrospect, a different name for the proctored test, such as “Travel Test,” would have been better.) Pharmacies sell only the cheaper, nonproctored version. Make sure to check before you buy to get the version you need.

Qured also offers a video supervised rapid test for $39. Another company, Ellume, also advertises a similar proctored test, but it announced a major product recall in October 2020 for producing too many false positives in its testing.

Starting January 15, the federal government has mandated that insurers must pay for up to eight home tests per person a month, unless a doctor prescribes more. If the insurer has a network of preferred pharmacies and vendors, you can get these home tests without any extra cost. If you go outside the network, the insurer will cover up to $12 per test and you will have to pay for anything above that. And if the insurer has not set up any network of preferred suppliers, then it must reimburse you for whatever the pharmacy or store charges.

Neither the government’s initial statement of these new rules, nor a related question and answer document, specifically address monitored at-home tests, which cost more than unproctored tests.

The government also plans to make hundreds of millions of at-home tests available for free.

If you prefer a PCR test, which is more accurate than a rapid antigen test, some companies, including LetsGetChecked, allow you to gather your own sample at home and mail it to a lab. Some airlines offer links to mail-in or supervised COVID-19 tests, but make sure to compare the prices at these links with the prices the manufacturer lists.

Another similar option is Labcorp’s Pixel, which both Walgreens and CVS offer for $125, but both were sold out in early January. 

Companies such as Vault, which partners with Hawaiian Airlines, send you an at-home PCR kit; you send the kit in with your saliva sample after an agent remotely watches you taking the test. 

This list isn’t comprehensive, and new options are frequently coming to market, so look around for the option that works best for you to document that you’re free of the virus.

Headshot of CRO freelance writer Adam Tanner

Adam Tanner

Adam Tanner is a Consumer Reports contributing editor. He is also the author of “Our Bodies, Our Data: How Companies Make Billions Selling Our Medical Records” and an associate at Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science.