- This marks the first time Medicare has covered an over-the-counter, self-administered test at no cost.
- The initiative matches an earlier Biden administration mandate that private insurers cover the cost of at-home tests for their enrollees.
Medicare beneficiaries can now get at-home Covid tests at no cost, the government announced Monday.
People with Medicare Part B (outpatient care coverage) — including Advantage Plan enrollees — will be able to get up to eight over-the-counter tests per month for free from participating pharmacies and health-care providers, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The initiative comes after Medicare was not included in a January mandate from the Biden administration that private insurers must cover the cost of at-home tests (also up to eight per month). This marks the first time Medicare has covered an over-the-counter, self-administered test at no cost to beneficiaries.
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About 63.3 million people are enrolled in Medicare. Most of the beneficiaries, 55.1 million, are age 65 or older, and the balance are generally younger with permanent disabilities. These populations are among the groups at higher risk for severe illness from Covid.
A list of eligible pharmacies and other health-care providers that are participating in this initiative can be found on the CMS website. However, it's worth checking with your pharmacy or doctor to find out if they are participating if you don't see them on the list.
Medicare beneficiaries also can still access free testing outside their home at one of more than 20,000 testing sites where lab-based PCR tests, rapid PCR tests and rapid antigen tests are available.
You also can order two sets of four tests for free through Covid.gov. The government website, which is available to all households, requires you to provide only your name and address; no insurance information is needed.