Why Getting Tested for Covid-19 Can Include a Headache

  • Travel

Vault, a P.C.R. test, offers an at-home test kit for travel from Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic to the United States. The kits cost $119 and include a video session with a qualified professional; there are drop-off points for samples across these countries’ major cities, with results of the P.C.R. test returned 12 to 48 hours after being received by the lab.

Antigen tests, rapid tests that can be processed within minutes, like an at-home pregnancy test, are cheaper but less reliable than P.C.R. tests, which are handled by a laboratory and include amplifying the virus’s genetic material many times, allowing it to detect even small traces of the virus. Both are accepted for travel to the United States, but some countries require a P.C.R. test for entry.

Ms. Decter said that BinaxNOW is “very cost-effective,” adding that Embark Beyond purchased the kits in bulk for its clients, many of whom use it for their return trips back to the United States. The tests, which clients can get shipped to their home or pick up at a local Walgreens, can be packed in a suitcase and self-administered with the supervision of a lab technician, over video chat.

Because such a cost-effective method is available, as well as the availability of no- or low-cost testing at many hotels worldwide, Ms. Decter said she does not believe that pricing is hindering travel at this point — for those who want to travel.

“Clients are either comfortable, and they’ll do whatever it takes. Or they’re very patient and they say, I’d rather wait,” Ms. Decter said. “But we don’t have people in the gray zone.”

Dr. Kominski, of U.C.L.A., said that pricing is likely particularly a deterrent for families, who have to consider the cost of multiple people when planning a trip.

Jennifer P. Tejada, 32, a special-education teacher in Brooklyn, went to Cartagena, Colombia, with her husband and two daughters in August. The family budgeted around $20 per person to get tested before heading back to the United States. A friend who had gone recently recommended a clinic there.

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