COVID Symptoms and Testing

COVID Symptoms

COVID-19 affects people in different ways. Infected people have reported a wide range of symptoms–from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Do you think you may have COVID-19? Use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Coronavirus Self-Checker.

If your assessment instructs you to seek emergency care:

  • Dial 911. Tell the 911 dispatcher that you may have COVID-19.
  • Go to the emergency roomThe hospital department that provides emergency services to patients who need immediate medical attention.. If you can, call ahead to tell them you may have COVID-19.

Your assessment may also show you have symptoms associated with COVID-19. If you’re concerned about these symptoms or any non-COVID-19 symptoms, or if you have other health questions, you can:

  • Call the MHS Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273), option 1.
  • Contact your primary care manager or your regional contractor. You can use secure messaging, if available. Call your military hospital or clinic hotline for advice.
  • Call your military hospital or clinic appointment line and ask to speak with your team nurse.
  • Schedule a virtual appointment with your primary care manager using your patient portal. Many civilian providers offer virtual telehealth appointments, too.

Testing for COVID

  • TRICARE covers COVID-19 tests at no cost, when ordered by a TRICARE-authorized providerAn authorized provider is any individual, institution/organization, or supplier that is licensed by a state, accredited by national organization, or meets other standards of the medical community, and is certified to provide benefits under TRICARE. There are two types of TRICARE-authorized providers: Network and Non-Network. DS or a provider at a military hospital or clinic. 
    • Don't show up at a hospital or clinic and ask to be tested without a medical order.
    • Your health care provider decides if you need a test based on your exposure risk, symptoms, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The test must be FDA-approved (including emergency use authorization).

Under the Test to Treat Initiative, TRICARE covers:

  • Free COVID-19 testing, and
  • A prescription for a COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment

Still have questions about testing for COVID-19? >>Learn more.

At-Home Testing

TRICARE covers the cost of at-home test kits that are both:

  • FDA-approved, and
  • Ordered by a TRICARE authorized provider for a medically necessaryTo be medically necessary means it is appropriate, reasonable, and adequate for your condition. purpose, such as exhibition of symptoms. 

The federal government is offering free at-home COVID-19 tests. >>Learn more.

At the time of posting, this information is current.

Additonal COVID-19 Resources

Monoclonal Antibodies Available to Treat Eligible High-Risk COVID-19 Patients

Coverage for Service Members

If you're Does TRICARE cover? Additional details

An active duty service member with or without COVID-19 symptoms or recent prolonged exposure.

This includes an activatedCalled or ordered to active duty service for more than 30 days in a row. National Guard/Reserve member called or ordered to active duty for more than 30 days.*


  • Get a test at a military hospital or clinic, when possible.
  • If you're a National Guard or Reserve member, you must show as TRICARE-eligible in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System(DEERS) A database of information on uniformed services members (sponsors), U.S.-sponsored foreign military, DoD and uniformed services civilians, other personnel as directed by the DoD, and their family members. You need to register in DEERS to get TRICARE..
  • TRICARE processes claims for service members under the Supplemental Health Care Program (SHCP).
  • For coverage under SHCP, you must have a provider order.
  • You should report your results through your unit and medical channels.

A National Guard or Reserve member called or ordered to active duty for less than 30 days.

No. You aren't TRICARE-eligible.
You'll need to get guidance from your unit regarding testing and payment. 
An active duty service member or an active duty family member on Permanent Change of Station orders to an overseas location. No
  • Your service covers testing as a travel expense under the Joint Travel Regulation only if your new overseas assignment location requires testing to enter the country.
  • You’ll pay for the test when you get it. This follows the same process as any other travel expense.
  • You'll report the cost on your voucher for travel reimbursement.

TRICARE may cover tests for active duty service members if it's required for mission readiness or deployment.

Coverage for all other TRICARE Beneficiaries (not Service Members)*

If you're Does TRICARE cover? Additional details
A TRICARE beneficiary with COVID-19 symptoms. Yes Provider order required.
A TRICARE beneficiary with no COVID-19 symptoms, but had prolonged exposure.  Yes Provider order required.
A TRICARE beneficiary who's having surgery.  Yes Provider order required.
Overseas and having testing done.  Yes, based on applicable guidelines 
  • Provider order required.
  • The TRICARE Overseas Program contractor follows the established guidelines and standards of care for COVID-19 testing for the country, host nation, and/or regional health authority (e.g., World Health Organization), where you're treated.  
A TRICARE For Life beneficiary. See Medicare

Having a test done that's not primarily intended for diagnosis and/or treatment of COVID-19. This includes:

  • Public health surveillance
  • Research
  • General workplace health and safety
  • Return to work or school
  • Mass transportation (e.g. bus, train, vanpool)
  • Personal or leisure travel
  • Curiosity or personal interest
  • Offer by a third party for "free" testing unrelated to medical necessity
  • To determine a donor's ability to donate blood or plasma
  • You should check with your employer, local or state public health authorities, or other party that's requiring the test for guidance and possible coverage or cost reimbursement.
  • You might consider buying travel insurance coverage for personal or leisure travel.

*This includes TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Young Adult, and TRICARE Retired Reserve enrollees.

More Information About Testing

Can I pick up free at-home COVID-19 tests at a military hospital or clinic?

Most military hospitals and clinics are distributing at-home COVID-19 tests to any eligible TRICARE beneficiaries. Contact your nearest military hospital or clinic about availability. >>Learn more

Last Updated 5/27/2022