How to get free at-home COVID tests for your family

The U.S. government is now sending free at-home rapid tests to people's homes.

As parents scramble to get COVID-19 tests for their children amid a surge in cases, new options are now available.

People can now get free at-home rapid tests mailed to their doorsteps by the government, and private health insurers are now required to pay for certain at-home COVID tests.

Here are four things for parents to know about the new ways to access COVID-19 tests.

1. You can order the free tests online.

The Biden administration on Tuesday launched a new website,, where people can order COVID-19 tests for free.

The website will take you to the U.S. Postal Service website, where you enter your name and address for shipping. No billing information is required because the tests are free.

Each household is allowed to order four tests.

2. The tests will be shipped in 7-12 days.

The tests could take as long as nearly two weeks to arrive, so they should be thought of as tests to have at home for future use.

When they do ship, they'll be shipped via first-class mail.

People who are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19 should visit the Department of Health and Human Services website to find a testing site near them.

3. The tests being shipped for free are rapid tests.

The tests being sent to homes across the U.S. are rapid antigen at-home tests.

These types of tests look for antigens, or proteins, of the coronavirus and return results very quickly, typically within an hour and some within minutes. These are different from lab tests, known as PCR tests, which look for viral genetic material and can take up to three days to return results.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health officials recommend people use at-home tests if they have COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed or potentially exposed to an individual with COVID-19 or before gathering indoors.

To make sure the test is being performed correctly, experts recommend people make sure they have a clean workspace and to carefully read the instructions.

Most tests have one line to indicate a negative result and two lines for a positive result.

Because some lines can be faint or hard to see with the naked eye, Dr. Stuart Ray, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told ABC News he recommends taking a photo of the result with a cell phone to confirm it.

4. You can also get COVID-19 tests for free through insurance.

As of Jan. 15, private health insurers are now required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month per person enrolled in the plan.

The coverage extends to FDA-approved tests that are purchased online, at a pharmacy or in a store, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Depending on the insurer, the tests will either be free up-front by showing your insurance card or through reimbursement.

If you are required to pay for your test and then be reimbursed, make sure to keep your receipt and then file a claim for reimbursement via your insurer's website.

Insurers are only required to cover testing kits purchased after Jan. 15. They are not required to reimburse for tests bought before that date, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

ABC News' Mary Kekatos and Cheyenne Haslett contributed to this report.