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Rapid Antigen Tests

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Updated September 23, 2022

FDA-approved or FDA-EUA rapid antigen tests can be used to follow university testing protocols that do not specifically require a Color (RT-LAMP) or RT-PCR test. Positive rapid antigen test results must be reported in Health Check.

When you test positive for COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID, you may use a rapid antigen test to end your isolation period and speed up your return to on-site activities. Individuals who have recovered from COVID in the past 90 days should not take a Color or PCR test due to the potential for false positive results from residual shedding of inactive virus. Nucleic acid amplification tests, like Color and PCR, can detect viral remnants days to weeks and sometimes even months after a COVID infection. Test reporting does not differentiate between infectious virus and non-infectious viral fragments, which is why these tests can remain positive, intermittently, for extended periods.

If you are experiencing COVID symptoms, are concerned about exposure, or are returning from travel back to campus, you may also choose to take a rapid antigen test. For guidance on rapid antigen testing in particular circumstances, please refer to the Health Alerts pages for Testing Positive, Symptoms, and Exposure. More information on using antigen tests is available through the State of California and the CDC.

Accessing rapid antigen tests

Faculty, staff, and postdocs can obtain rapid antigen tests through their health insurance providers.

Information from Stanford's health provider: 

  • SHCA/Aetna: Members are reimbursed for up to eight tests per 30 days for rapid antigen tests purchased at a retail pharmacy, and through medical benefits in some cases. Reimbursement can be obtained using this CVS form, which can be faxed to 859-455-8650, uploaded through the member website, or mailed to the address on the form along with the receipt. 
  • The Healthcare + Savings Plan and ACA Basic High Deductible: Members can obtain reimbursement for up to eight tests per month (or more with a provider order) by submitting an online claims form and receipts through Blue Shield. Paper forms can also be used when submitting multiple receipts (e.g. for multiple members of a family). 
  • Kaiser Permanente: Members will be reimbursed for the cost of rapid antigen tests and will be limited to $12 per test, including shipping and sales tax. Members can also order tests from Kaiser, or get tests from a Kaiser facility or participating retail pharmacies. See more information on the Kaiser website.

Purchasing by units and individuals

The use of university funds to purchase rapid antigen tests for general distribution to employees, postdocs, or students requires approval from the VP/Dean of the unit, then University Policy Group approval. For more information, contact Environmental Health & Safety through ServiceNow.

The purchase of rapid antigen tests for COVID safety plans and testing protocols for visitors, events, and conferences is allowable and will be a reimbursable expense.