Where to get free COVID-19 test in Colorado

Insurance not necessary at roughly 50 sites throughout state

Posted

Half a year into the coronavirus pandemic's detected spread through Colorado — and with many Denver metro school districts back for in-person class — the need for COVID-19 tests remains high, and options abound for where Coloradans can access testing.

In March, there was confusion over the actual cost of a test. “Testing is free,” a March 10 state news release said.

The cost of medical visits related to getting tested was a different story.

Because of federal legislation later that month, people with any kind of private health insurance should have free access to the COVID-19 test — along with any doctor visits associated with getting the test, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance.

But some health insurance offered by Americans' employers — known as self-funded or self-insured health plans — have refused to pay for COVID-19 tests at all or have required that consumers pay some costs, according to a letter from congressional Democrats to federal officials in July.

Coloradans can avoid all the uncertainty surrounding costs by accessing testing at one of roughly 50 state-supported “community testing” locations, where testing is free and health insurance is not necessary. The state generally provides testing supplies to those locations.

Here are the details on where and when — and what Coloradans need to do — to get tested at those sites.

Drive-thru tests in Aurora, Denver, Adams

On Aug. 10, Gov. Jared Polis announced two new drive-up testing sites in Aurora and the Thornton-Westminster area.

Those are the Aurora Sports Park at 19300 E. Colfax Ave. — just east of Tower Road — and Water World at 8801 N. Pecos St. in Federal Heights.

Those drive-thru community testing sites joined the Pepsi Center near downtown Denver — which opened on May 22 — as the three major drive-thru sites in the metro area.

The state contracts with MAKO Medical, a health-care laboratory, to operate the sites at Aurora Sports Park and Water World and collaborate with the City of Denver on the Pepsi Center site. They represent a handful of the state's 52 community testing sites, according to the Colorado State Joint Information Center.

Hours and registration

• Water World — There is no cost to get tested. Visitors do not need an identification card, Social Security number or insurance to get tested. Those who have symptoms, have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus or who otherwise need a test are encouraged to come to the location, according to Adams County's COVID-19 website. Up to 2,500 tests will be administered each day, and results were to be available within two to four days.

Visitors are urged to pre-register online for a faster visit. See here to register.

The Water World site is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through September, although the state information center says testing will be available “for the foreseeable future” and that it will monitor demand and make decisions accordingly. 

• Aurora Sports Park — Testing is free, no identification is required and visitors do not need insurance to get tested, according to Tri-County Health Department's website. Drive-thru testing is open to everyone regardless of symptoms, the site says. Visitors can pre-register to speed up the process, but it is not required. See here to register. Results were to be available within two to four days.

The location is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tri-County Health is the public health agency for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

• Pepsi Center — Testing is free, and visitors do not need insurance to get tested. Visitors will be asked to show a document that includes their names to ensure proper follow-up after the test result, according to Denver's website. The document could be a photo ID, passport, school ID, library card, a bill or other documents listed on the city's website. Testing is by appointment only — sign up online and plan to get tested within 24 hours of registration.

The site is open seven days a week except for holidays: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.-noon on weekends. Enter the lot at Auraria Parkway and 7th Street. The site will close if the 2,000 test-per-day limit is reached or due to severe weather. The city discourages showing up before 8 a.m., as there is no place for vehicles to wait.  

Anyone living or working in Denver can get tested regardless of symptoms, according to the website, but the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment in June told Colorado Community Media that the testing is open to everyone, not just Denver residents.

The Pepsi Center results are available in five or more business days due to national test-processing volumes, the city's site says.

Doctor's note not needed

People don't need a doctor's note or doctor's order to get tested at community testing sites, according to the state information center.

“There might be some community sites that prioritize testing for health-care workers, individuals who have symptoms or who were exposed, but we are not aware of any community testing sites that require a doctor's note,” the center said in a statement. 

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has said that tests for Medicare and Medicaid members must be ordered by the member's doctor or other health-care provider, but individuals are not asked about insurance at community testing sites.  

“Our state lab analyzes all Medicare (and) Medicaid samples to ensure they are free of charge. Individuals with Medicare (or) Medicaid can be tested free of charge at any of our community testing sites and are not asked to provide proof of any type of insurance coverage,” the center said in a statement.

Other testing sites

In May, the state listed dozens of “community testing sites that have had their plans approved by and received testing supplies from the state of Colorado” on a statewide map. Contact information is still listed for those sites on that map.

The state now directs the public to a new map, which includes locations that are not necessarily community test sites and may require some charges for testing depending on insurance. Coloradans should call ahead of time at the phone number listed at the link if visiting such locations.

One test provider the state has consistently listed is STRIDE Community Health Center, a group of locations that are not considered state testing sites and whose funding has come from federal and private grants to support testing, said Laura Larson, STRIDE's vice president of development.

STRIDE offers testing at several locations in the west, east and south metro area, and no doctor's notes are required.

For individuals who have insurance, STRIDE does attempt to bill their insurance carrier first, but if a claim is denied, STRIDE will not bill the individual for the test, Larson said. There are no fees collected at the time of testing.

STRIDE received federal grant funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration to cover testing costs for uninsured patients. As of early September, a cap to that funding has not been communicated, according to STRIDE.

Comments

Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.