Commonly Asked Questions about Over-the-Counter Tests and Medicare

It’s almost an understatement to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives and how we live in a range of ways. While Medicare did not pay for Covid-19 tests that were available over the counter, the Center for Medicaid Services is in the process of executing an effort in the spring of 2022 that will offer payment directly to qualifying pharmacies as well as other business entities that participate in this program to help Medicare recipients receive up to eight Covid-19 tests free each month.  

Currently, Medicare Advantage Plans sometimes cover and pay for over-the-counter (OTC) Covid-19 tests as a supplement in combination with providing Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you should review the terms of the plan to check whether the plan will cover and pay for Covid-19 tests. 

All Medicare beneficiaries with Part B qualify to receive eight free OTC Covid-19 tests, despite whether a person is enrolled in a Medicare advantage plan.

How Can You Receive Free Medicare Tests?

One of the most common questions that people ask is when they can begin receiving free Covid-19 tests. The answer to this question is that individuals who receive Medicare can obtain free OTC Covid-19 right now through various methods created by the Biden administration. Some methods that you can use to obtain Covid-19 tests include:

  • Accessing antigen and PCR tests performed by a laboratory when a physician orders a test
  • Calling 1-800-Medicare to determine where to locate a Covid-19 test
  • Requesting free Covid-19 tests through the website

People with Medicare should also know that they can access lab-performed tests without an order. Beginning in early spring, a person with Medicare can go to a qualifying pharmacy or other entities that are participating in this program to receive OTC Covid-19 tests for free. 

Are Additional Details Available?

Additional details about what pharmacies qualify as well as other information will be available in the spring of 2022. 

After the program is launched, the Center for Medicaid Service will request beneficiaries ask either their local pharmacy or health care provider to determine if they are participating in the program.

How Does Compensation for Tests Work?

People are also curious whether they will first need to buy a test before being compensated. In reality, the new program will permit payments directly to qualified pharmacies and other entities that are participating in the program. As a result, a person will be able to pick up OTC Covid-19 tests without paying anything at these locations. 

What about Loved Ones?

Another commonly asked question is if a person’s family member can receive free Covid-19 tests even if they do not have Medicare. In reality, every home in the country is eligible for four OTC Covid-19 tests, which are delivered by the United States Postal Services.

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