COVID-19 Testing Information
Testing capabilities for COVID-19 have increased dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. Currently, anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms (which now includes fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches and chills, or decreased sense of smell or taste) should be tested for COVID-19.
There are many options for testing in Utah, including drive-thru locations operated by Intermountain Healthcare, the University of Utah Health, Steward Health Care, and TestUtah. For more information on how to access testing at these sites and to make your experience at these sites go as smooth as possible, click on the links to the right.
Testing FAQ with Testing Director Nate Checketts
During one of his COVID-19 briefings, Governor Gary Herbert interviewed Utah Department of Health deputy director Nate Checketts about some of the common questions related to testing. Read the Q&A here.
No one should be afraid to get tested because of cost.
Most people will not have to pay for COVID-19 testing. You should not be asked for payment when you go to a testing location. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and subsequent sub-regulatory guidance ensures the cost of getting a COVID-19 test is covered at 100% if you have health insurance and you have a medical reason to be tested. This means you have symptoms of COVID-19, you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, and you have a referral from a healthcare professional.
If you have health insurance:
- You should not be charged for a test no matter what testing site you go to.
- Healthcare providers are required by federal law to post a cash price for COVID-19 tests. This is to inform health insurance companies what to pay if you get tested by a provider that is out-of-network. If you are insured and have been charged for a test, please email the Utah Department of Health at COVID19TestingCoverage@utah.
gov or the Utah Insurance Department at email@example.com.
- You may be required to have an order from a physician, practitioner, pharmacist, or another authorized health care professional for the cost of your test to be covered. Please check with your individual health insurance company to determine if this is a requirement for coverage. This type of visit or assessment should also be covered at 100%.
If you are tested for a non-medical reason:
- You may be charged if you are getting tested for employment, travel, or non-medical reasons.
- Testing for general workplace health and safety (such as employee ‘return to work’ programs), public health surveillance, or any other purpose not primarily intended for diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19 or another health condition are not included in the requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and may not be covered by your health insurance.
- Check with your health insurance company for coverage details before you get tested.
If you have Medicare coverage:
- Medicare will make payment for one diagnostic test per resident/patient without an order from a physician, practitioner, pharmacist, or other authorized health care professional. All subsequent tests require such an order. This type of visit or assessment should also be covered at 100%.
If you are uninsured and are a U.S. citizen and a Utah resident:
- You qualify for COVID-19 testing coverage through Medicaid. You must apply for this program at https://medicaid.utah.gov/
- Medicaid COVID-19 testing coverage for the uninsured covers the COVID-19 tests and all testing related services including doctor appointments (both in-person and through telehealth), ER visits, and any services performed in order to diagnose COVID-19, including X-rays, etc. Testing and other services will be paid for back to the date of your services.
If you are uninsured and do not qualify for the Medicaid option:
There are locations that will provide testing free of charge. If you need help finding a location that provides free testing please call the Utah Coronavirus Hotline at 1-800-456-7707 or use the chat feature on the coronavirus.utah.gov website.
COVID-19 Testing Criteria
COVID-19 testing capacity in Utah has expanded.
The Utah Department of Health still recommends healthcare providers and COVID-19 testing sites test all individuals with any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, decreased sense of smell or taste, or sore throat.
Types of COVID-19 Tests
A PCR test tells you if you have COVID-19 right now and could spread it to other people. A PCR test looks for the genetic material of the virus. It is a very accurate test. A healthcare worker uses a nasal swab to collect a sample from your throat, behind your nose.
An antigen test is a new kind of COVID-19 test. You can get results in minutes. An antigen test looks for proteins found on or within the virus. It tells you if you have COVID-19 right now and could spread it to other people. Like a PCR test, a healthcare worker uses a nasal swab to collect a sample from your throat, behind your nose. Antigen tests are very accurate. However, there is a higher chance of having a false negative test result. This means if you test negative for COVID-19 with an antigen test, you may also need to get a PCR test to make sure you don’t have COVID-19.
Serology or antibody test
Serology, or antibody tests, may be able to tell if you have ever been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. A positive antibody test does not guarantee immunity to COVID-19. A sample of your blood is collected and is used to see if your body has made antibodies to the virus. Your body makes antibodies when it fights an infection. Antibodies in your blood mean, at one time, you were exposed to COVID-19. Antibody tests find these antibodies in your blood and tell you if your immune system has responded to the infection. More information on the antibody test can be found farther on this page.
Contact tracing is an important part of how public health responds and stops disease outbreaks. People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are more at risk of getting infected and making others sick. Contact tracing is how public health workers find the close contacts of someone who has COVID-19.