Medicare to Cover At-Home COVID-19 Tests Starting This Spring

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Soon Medicare recipients no longer will have to pay for at-home COVID-19 tests.

The tests will be covered at no cost through Medicare beginning in “early spring,” according to a Feb. 3 announcement from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). No date was specified for when the new benefit will begin.

According to a CMS press release:

“Under the new initiative, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to access up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month for free. Tests will be available through eligible pharmacies and other participating entities. This policy will apply to COVID-19 over-the-counter tests approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

The new initiative builds on a previously announced Biden administration requirement for private insurers to cover the cost of over-the-counter tests at up to eight per insured individual per month.

Initially, that requirement did not apply to Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older and people with certain diseases or disabilities. Beginning this spring, it will.

More than 61 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare. The federal government notes that this is the first time Medicare has covered an over-the-counter test where beneficiaries are not responsible for any costs.

However, those enrolled in the federal health care program may not have to wait until spring to access free at-home testing. As we reported in “On Medicare? 6 Ways to Get Free COVID-19 Tests,” there are many avenues you can try today to land free tests.

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