If you need a test, your primary care doctor or an urgent care center may be able to help, and the cost may be covered by your insurance.
There are also several free testing options in the Houston area. Some are open to all, while others may be restricted to local residents. Government programs may cover costs for those who are uninsured. You may also need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for free testing from specific providers.
Typical symptoms include fever, cough or difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing a health emergency, and not just symptoms, you should call 911.
Here is a list of Houston-area testing options, costs and other requirements.
WHO SHOULD GET TESTED?
While there are some guidelines that differ depending on a person’s vaccination status, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all people get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms or if they have been referred to get tested by their healthcare provider or health department.
The CDC says most people should get tested if they have had close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19. Close contact is defined as contact within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
- For those who are fully vaccinated, they should get tested three to five days after known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
- The CDC says people who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past three months and recovered do not need to get tested following an exposure as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
The CDC also recommends testing for unvaccinated people who have participated in activities that put them at higher risk because they cannot physically distance. These activities include travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded or poorly-ventilated indoor settings.
For international travelers, a COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 is required before travelers board a flight from a foreign country to the U.S., regardless of vaccination status. The CDC says international travelers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, arriving in the U.S. are still encouraged to get a test three to five days after travel.
Houston Health Department
Houston Health Department-affiliated sites offer free testing. Testing does not require proof of residency, citizenship or insurance. Appointments are not required. The Health Department operates both pop-up testing sites with different locations and schedules as well as fixed testing sites with consistent schedules and locations. Click here to learn more.
Harris County Public Health
HCPH sites offer free testing. Results should come back within 24 to 48 hours. Appointments are not necessary but are preferred. Click here to find a testing site and make an appointment. You can also call 832-927-7575 for testing information.
Fort Bend County
Testing is free for Fort Bend County residents at Fort Bend County-sponsored locations. Results can take up to three to five business days. Appointments are required. Call (281) 633-7795 to schedule an appointment to be tested for COVID-19 at Fort Bend County-sponsored location. Click here for more information.
CVS offers testing with no out-pocket cost through insurance or a federal program for the uninsured. CVS says those with insurance should not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for a covered COVID-19 test, but patients should check with their health plan to confirm. Those without insurance will need to provide their social security number, driver's license or state ID to submit the cost of the test to the federal program for the uninsured. Click here to learn more, find a location and schedule a test.
Curative offers free testing at thousands of sites across the country, including in Houston. Tests are self-collected. Patients should receive their results digitally in one to two days. Click here for locations and to schedule an appointment.
Those who are determined to be eligible for testing can get tested at no cost when billed to your insurance or the government. Testing is available for those ages 2+. Same-day appointments may be available. Molecular test results are typically available the next day. Click here to find locations, see if you are eligible and schedule an appointment.
Walgreens offers free drive-thru testing for those ages 3 and up at select locations. If you have insurance, you will be asked to show your insurance card at the appointment and the lab may bill your insurer. To get tested, you can complete a questionnaire online, choose a location and schedule a time for your test. Click here for more information and locations.
Some testing costs may be covered by insurance. Check with your insurance provider before getting tested to learn how much you may have to pay.
Legacy Community Health - Multiple locations
Legacy Community Health has screeners at the entrance of all clinics open to in-person appointments across Houston, Baytown, and Beaumont. Legacy will only test those who screen positive. Legacy accepts most HMOs/PPOs, Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare. The cash price of a COVID-19 diagnostic test is $80 for self-pay patients. Some patients may be eligible for a sliding scale fee that would reduce the $80 cash price. Click here to learn more.
Next Level Urgent Care - Multiple locations
With more than a dozen locations across the Houston area, Next Level Urgent care offers several different testing options including PCR tests, rapid antigen tests and a Biofire respiratory panel at varying costs. Insurance may cover part of the cost. Walk-ins are accepted but appointments are recommended. Find a list of costs for those with and without insurance by clicking here.
MedExpress - Mulitple locations
MedExpress offers rapid antigen tests and send-out PCR lab tests. Costs may be covered by your insurance. Click here to learn more.
West Isle Urgent Care - Galveston
No appointment is needed for COVID-19 testing at West Isle Urgent Care. They offer rapid tests as well as send-out PCR testing. Insurance may cover some of the cost. Click here to learn more.