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Dear Matt,

Does Medicare pay for at-home rapid COVID testing?

Thanks,

Ashley S.


Ashley,

Right now, Original Medicare does not yet officially cover rapid over-the-counter OTC COVID-19 tests, but Medicare just announced on February 3, 2022 they will begin to pay for them sometime in early 2022.  They’ll be covered under Medicare Part B.

Remember, you’re on Original Medicare if you use your red, white and blue Medicare card with, or without a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan to pay for your healthcare.

If you’re on Original Medicare, there are a bunch of different ways you can get tested for COVID at no or low cost, anyway. I’ve made some slight copy edits to what Medicare published for brevity and clarity:

  • You can request free over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 test kits for home delivery at covidtests.gov.
  • You can access low-to-no-cost COVID-19 tests through healthcare providers at over 20,000 free testing sites nationwide. A list of community-based testing sites can be found by clicking here.
  • You can also get lab-based PCR tests and antigen tests when ordered by a doctor, non-physician healthcare practitioner, pharmacist, or other authorized health care professional at no cost through Medicare. In addition to accessing a COVID-19 lab test ordered by a health care professional, people with Medicare can also access one lab-performed test without an order, also without cost sharing, during the public health emergency.

Source: COVID-19 Over-the-Counter (OTC) Tests & Medicare Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Testing and Medicare Advantage

If you’re on a Medicare Advantage plan, OTC COVID-19 testing coverage is a decision your Medicare Advantage insurance company makes.  In my experience, most Medicare Advantage plans are covering these, but call the number on the back of your card to make sure. Medicare is reporting all people on Medicare Advantage plans eligible for the new benefit, whether enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or not.  However, at this stage they haven’t been clear on how that’s going to work or be administered, so I’d still check with my Medicare Advantage insurance company anyway.  

I hope that helps, Ashley!

I love answering Medicare questions. Send me yours by clicking here and I’ll pick a few for a future blog post!

To your wealth, wisdom, and wellness!

-Matt Feret

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Author Bio: Matt Feret is the author of the Prepare for Medicare book series and launched prepareformedicare.com to help people get objective answers to questions about Medicare. He’s also the host of The Matt Feret Show.

He’s held leadership roles at numerous Fortune 500 Medicare health insurers in sales, marketing, operations, product development and strategy for over 20 years.  Matt holds a BA from Virginia Tech and an MHA from Washington University in St. Louis. 

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