Coronavirus tests are available at community sites, hospitals, urgent care clinics, pharmacies and some physician’s offices. Under a state of Michigan policy, anyone with coronavirus symptoms, or anyone who has been working outside of their home for at least 10 days, can get a test without needing a doctor’s prescription. Check with the testing site, as well as your health care provider and your insurance company, before you go to understand what the cost will be. In some cases, tests are free.
Know the symptoms
Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. In rare cases, stomach pain, change in bowels, nausea and vomiting have been reported. If you are experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor to see if you should get tested. If you don’t have a doctor, call the state’s hotline at 888-535-6136 to see if you should get tested. If you or someone you know have increasing shortness of breath, persistent chest pain or chest pressure, are confused or difficult to wake, or have bluish lips or face, go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Find a testing site
To find a testing site near you, visit Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest. The website allows you to filter search results based on where you live, if you don’t have insurance, if you don’t have symptoms, if you don’t have a doctor’s order or if you need a free tests. The state also has a coronavirus hotline at 888-535-6136. This number can also be used if you don’t have a doctor and think you may have the coronavirus. Anyone who calls the Michigan COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 and presses 1 from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be transferred automatically to a 211 operator who can help the caller find testing sites. Several counties and municipalities are offering free COVID-19 testing for community residents. These counties and municipalities are covering the cost of the testing, and do not bill insurance for the tests. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network recommend its members check with these sites before going for testing, as each site may have different requirements regarding appointments, physician orders, symptoms and place of residence.
Before you go
Here are three things to do before you go to the testing site:
- Call your doctor if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms and want to get tested.
- Check with your health insurance company to understand their policy regarding testing costs. Many testing sites are also offering free testing.
- Call ahead to the testing site and ask:
- Is screening necessary?
- Do I need an appointment?
- Do I meet the testing criteria?
- Do I need a doctor’s prescription?
- Do I need health insurance?
Blue Cross recommends that members contact and work closely with their health care providers. Their providers are best positioned to connect their individual testing needs with current testing recommendations and can help direct members to high-quality in-network testing laboratories. Blue Cross and Blue Care Network are covering the costs of medically necessary, physician-authorized diagnostic testing for COVID-19 as of September 31, 2021.
What to expect
Testing for the new coronavirus is done through a nose swab, in which a long Q-tip is inserted far back into both sides of your nose for at least 15 seconds on each side. Many testing sites offer drive-through testing, which means you will not have to leave your car to get tested. Bring identification with you, as well as any documents from your doctor if they have ordered a test for you. More from MIBluesPerspectives.com:
- Two Main COVID-19 Tests, Explained
- Don’t Stop…Stopping Coronavirus
- Coronavirus Outbreak: What You Need to Know
Photo credit: Robin Schwartz for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan