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COVID Update - Free Masks, Free Tests, Avoid Scams

By Mary Ellen Benzik, MD
 January 31, 2022

iCare members, here are a few recent updates to keep in mind about COVID-19.

Free N95 Masks

Masks are still a highly-recommended way to protect those around you and yourself from becoming infected with COVID-19. Some of the most effective masks are called N95 masks. They filter out at least 95% of air particles, and are regularly considered the gold standard for masking. As of this writing, they are available free from many locations. Here are some helpful articles.

Free N95 masks in Wisconsin: Where to find them and how to wear them - Wisconsin Public Radio

How to get free N95 masks from pharmacies or community health centers - CNN

 

Free COVID-19 Tests 

With the increase in fraud linked to COVID–19 testing, iCare wants to make sure you are aware of how to find trusted testing sites and know how to report any concerns.

To ensure Wisconsinites are receiving COVID-19 testing from a trusted testing provider, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) encourages people to use trusted testing options, including sites listed on the DHS COVID-19: Community Testing Sites web page (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/community-testing.htm), health care providers, and local and tribal health departments.

Get At-Home, Rapid COVID-19 Tests For No Cost - Members of BadgerCare Plus and most Wisconsin Medicaid programs can now get at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests from our pharmacy without having to pay. This new benefit makes it easier for you to test for COVID-19 without having to go to the doctor. For more details, see At-Home, Rapid COVID-19 test flyer from DHS

 

Avoid Scams

DHS offers some tips to be informed and avoid being scammed. You can protect yourself from potentially 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 2-3 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 FDA-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. 

You can submit a testing provider complaint 

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. 


 

Mary Ellen Benzik, MD

Dr. Benzik is the iCare Chief Medical Officer. 

H2237_IC315_C
Last Updated 2/2/22

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