COVID-19: Get Tested

Questions about your results? Call the COVID-19 test results hotline: 866-419-6988

Do you have COVID-19 symptoms? Have you been exposed to COVID-19? If your answer is “yes” to either of these questions, it’s time to get tested, even if you are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.

There are many ways to get tested for COVID-19 in Wisconsin. First contact your doctor to ask if your primary health care clinic provides testing. If testing is not available, find a free community testing site near you. Check with the location for hours and when appointments are available.

Getting tested for COVID-19

See the basic information about COVID-19 testing, including when to get tested, how to get a test, and what happens during and after a test. COVID-19 self-tests are also available and can be purchased at pharmacies or ordered online for free at SayYesCovidHomeTest.gov.

Who should test

No matter your vaccination status, you should get tested if you were exposed to COVID-19 or if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.

When to get tested

  • Get tested immediately if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Get tested after being exposed to COVID-19. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should get tested five days after exposure to someone with COVID-19.
  • You may need to be tested before or after you travel, even if you are up to date with current vaccine recommendations.
  • Consider using a self-test before going to a public event or getting together with friends and family.

How to get tested for COVID-19

There are many ways to get tested for COVID-19 in Wisconsin:

  • Contact a doctor or primary health care provider, pharmacy, or your local community health center to see if they offer testing. Local or tribal health departments can also help you find testing sites near you.
  • Visit a local community testing site. Testing at these sites is free. Some locations may require an appointment to receive a test.
  • You can order a free testing kit online and receive a package of 5 free, rapid, at-home COVID-19 self-tests at SayYesCovidHomeTest.org.
  • Self-tests are available for purchase over-the counter at pharmacies and online. See a list of products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

You can protect yourself from potential fraudulent testing providers by following these guidelines:

  • Do not pay with cash. Most insurance will cover the cost of COVID-19 testing. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) also cover COVID-19 testing. Ask the provider if they accept health insurance.
  • Do not provide your personal information. Providers that ask for your Social Security number, passport, driver’s license, or other personal information may be involved in identity theft scams. However, providers may ask for your ID to verify your information if they are intending to bill insurance.
  • Ask when and how you will get your results. Testing providers should tell you when you will receive results, or at least provide a range, such as two to three days. They should also explain how you will receive results, such as by email, mail, or phone.
  • Ask about certification. The federal government assigns a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) number to approved COVID-19 testing facilities that perform rapid onsite testing. You can learn in advance whether a testing lab has a CLIA number by typing in the lab name. The lab name will pop up if they’ve been assigned a CLIA number.
  • Confirm that results will be reported. Find out if the testing provider reports COVID-19 test results to state and federal agencies, which they are required to do.
  • Buy Food and Drug Administration-authorized COVID-19 tests. Only purchase testing kits from reputable companies and be on the lookout for copycat company names with suspicious websites or spelling errors.

What to expect

Some types of tests for COVID-19 require inserting a long swab (like a long Q-tip) into the nose and gently rotating it several times. The swabbing is then repeated in the other nostril. The test can be a little uncomfortable but is usually painless. The swab is then sent to a lab for testing. Other types of tests use saliva or throat swabs.

While you wait for your COVID-19 test results, stay home and monitor your symptoms, to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.

Getting your test results

If you were tested for COVID-19 at a community testing site, you may be notified of your test results by phone or email. Some community testing sites have upgraded to a web-based system, COVID Connect 2, that allows you to create an account to access your testing results.

Frequently asked questions

Can I still get a test if I don't have insurance?

Yes. COVID-19 tests are available for anyone who needs a test in a variety of settings across the state.

  • There are community testing sites throughout Wisconsin run by pharmacies, health care providers, community testing partners and local public and tribal health departments. Community testing sites offer free testing. Contact the community testing site for information about registration, appointments and walk-in testing.
  • At-home tests, also called self-tests, are available for purchase through pharmacies and online.
  • You can order a free testing kit online and receive one package of 5 free, rapid, at-home COVID-19 self-tests at SayYesCovidHomeTest.org.
  • Health care providers across Wisconsin offer COVID-19 testing, including free or low cost health clinics. Call to make an appointment.

For more information on resources available to uninsured Wisconsin residents, visit our ForwardHealth Program Resources webpage.

Will I be charged by my doctor?

Before you are tested, ask if there is a charge for the test, appointment, or any other services associated with your visit. In most cases, COVID-19 testing is free if you have any symptom(s) or exposure to the virus.

Will my health insurance charge me for COVID-19 testing and/or care?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) generally requires public and private insurance to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing and care.

If you are seeking testing from an out-of-network healthcare provider, please contact your health insurance provider to find out their out-of-network process. Health insurance plans must cover COVID-19 tests conducted by out-of-network providers. Individuals can be charged up-front fees for COVID-19 testing that is reimbursable. Contact your health insurer for assistance.

See answers to frequently asked questions on FFRCA and the CARES act. If you receive a bill for COVID-19 testing and/or treatment, please contact the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to file a complaint.

What if I have concerns about my testing experience?

You can direct complaints about a COVID-19 testing experience to DHS’ Office of Inspector General at 877-865-3432 or online. Examples of complaints could include: incorrect results, missing results, fake results, testing quality, testing site cleanliness, insurance billing, inappropriate fees for tests, testing fraud such as fake test kits, and other related topics.

Can I use a self-test?

COVID-19 self-tests (also called an at-home tests or over-the-counter tests) are a type of COVID-19 test that anyone can use at home or anywhere. Self-tests are easy to use and produce rapid results. Learn more about when and how to use self-tests and what your results mean.


Resources on COVID-19 testing

See resources and educational materials on COVID-19 testing translated into multiple languages.


Testing support programs for facilities

COVID-19 testing support programs are available in specific settings and facilities in Wisconsin. Testing is free, voluntary, and intended to complement COVID-19 prevention efforts. For more information on specific testing support programs, see the resources listed below:

Shelters with shared living environments

All shelters with shared living environments are eligible to receive COVID-19 testing support.

County jails

County jails are eligible for COVID-19 testing support based on the availability of testing supplies.

 

Do you have COVID-19?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms, you should isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Free COVID-19 Treatment Telehealth Consultations

DHS offers a free COVID-19 Treatment Telehealth service for Wisconsinites ages 18 and older who test positive for COVID-19 to help them access COVID-19 treatments. Learn more about it on our telehealth webpage.

Learn what to do if you have COVID-19.

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Last Revised: December 7, 2022

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