Whence can I get tested for COVID-19 in the Bay Area? (3)

Q: What happens if I do not have a primary care doctor or if I am not insured?

If you just lost your business, don't panic: you can still get insurance. As of Friday, the state announced that anyone uninsured and eligible for covered California can now subscribe by the end of June.

But if you are in the mouth, the best place to start is to call a local health unit to get you in touch with local resources. For example, Santa Clara County 2-1-1 Service will help you get in touch with Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center, the area's public hospital system.

If you are sick enough to go to the ambulance service providers are obliged to help. Still, again, health professionals are warning you to rely on emergencies just for testing purposes of avoiding congestion.

Most California hospitals set up "tents" outside of the emergency room for patients with respiratory symptoms, according to Mills. There you will be evaluated and eventually tested, sent to commercial labs, or admitted to hospital if you are sick enough.



Q: How much will it cost?

Earlier this month, the state ordered commercial insurers and Medi-Cal - covering approximately 24 million Californians - to remove the cost-sharing for patients on COVID-19 testing. This means that there is no co-financing, deduction, or co-insurance for "medically necessary" tests and test-related visits.

However, you should always ask your insurer how exactly you will be billed and what your costs will be reimbursed since the directive does not release any further care costs. Most importantly, the exemption does not apply to self-insurance coverage plans.

Q: How long will it take?

The actual test - usually a nose wipe - only takes a few minutes. But some commercial tests take between two and seven days to report results, which is frustrating for providers who are forced to retest patients, Witt said. Internal lab results could be back in a day or less.

Q: Is it reliable?

In general, the COVID-19 test is very reliable, especially in people with symptoms. The assay is called reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR). It measures the presence of RNA viral genes located in the epithelial cells of the human respiratory tract. The test extracts RNA, transcribes it into DNA, and then amplifies it by a polymerase chain reaction.

There are no known "false positives." But there are more and more reports of "false negatives," when people are wrongly informed that they are virus-free when they are actually infected. This seems particularly common at the onset of the disease.

The so-called "incubation period" of COVID-19 - the time between infection and symptoms - ranges from one to 14 days, with an average of five days. This means you could be negative for 12 days after exposure and then positive for day 13. But if you were exposed more than two weeks ago and you're still in good health, you've avoided infection.

If you have been infected but have had two consecutive negative tests, everything is clear.

Q: How do doctors decide to take the test?

Here's a tip from John Muir of Walnut Creek Health, based on infectious disease experts and the latest CDC guidelines:

Does the patient have a fever or respiratory symptoms: cough, shortness of breath?
Has the patient traveled abroad? (To countries or on a cruise ship known for the COVID-19 outbreak) or have you been in close contact with someone who has had it in the last 14 days? - Or - was the patient in close contact (within 6 feet) with someone suspected or tested positive for COVID-19?
Is the symptomatic person an elderly person (≥ 65 years) with chronic health problems and an immunocompromised condition, which may expose them to a higher risk of poor health outcomes (eg, diabetes, heart disease, receive immunosuppressive drugs, chronic lung disease, chronic disease) kidney, long-term care or residential care), - or - symptomatic health care provider?
If 1 and 2 or 1 and 3 are yes, then consider the COVID-19 test.

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