Medicare will cover free at-home COVID-19 testing for beneficiaries

February 03, 2022

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Beginning in early spring, beneficiaries of the original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans will be eligible to receive free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, according to CMS.

The change comes after the Biden administration ruled that private insurers must cover the cost of eight rapid home COVID-19 tests per month for their members while the United States is under an official public health emergency. The ruling did not initially apply to Medicare beneficiaries since the services covered by the Medicare program are detailed in federal law and generally exclude over-the-counter products, according to reports from Kaiser Health News.

Starting in early spring, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests that are cleared or approved by the FDA, according to CMS.
Source: Adobe Stock.

Now, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive eight free at-home tests per month, CMS said in a press release. Tests can be obtained at eligible pharmacies and other participating partners.

“Medicare is working to expand access to over-the-counter COVID-19 testing for people with Medicare. This initiative is under development and will be ready in early spring,” Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD, the deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, told Healio.

Meanwhile, individuals can get free tests through other sources such as COVIDTests.govfree drugstore testing sites and eligible community health centers and Medicare-certified health clinics.

In 2021, 36.2 million adults were enrolled in Original Medicare and 26.9 million adults were enrolled in Medicare Advantage, according to CMS.

“Testing remains an essential tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and we are committed to providing resources to keep people on Medicare safe and healthy,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, MP, the CMS administrator, told Healio. “In launching this initiative, the Biden-Harris administration is doing everything possible to make free, over-the-counter COVID-19 testing more accessible to people on Medicare.”

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