If you have Medicare, you can now receive up to eight free rapid at-home Covid-19 tests a month at participating pharmacies.
The free tests are available to all Medicare beneficiaries with Part B, including those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you only have Medicare Part A, Medicare won’t cover the cost.
To get the tests, you can visit one of the pharmacies participating in the program (for a partial list of participating pharmacies, click here). You do not have to be a current customer of the pharmacy in order to receive the tests.
Unlike with private insurance, there is no upfront cost for the tests. As long as you do not order more than eight tests in a calendar month, you will not pay anything. Note that tests are often packaged with two in each box, so eight tests may not mean eight boxes. If you pay for a test yourself, Medicare will not reimburse you.
When the administration originally announced it was requiring private insurers to reimburse the cost of up to eight rapid at-home Covid tests a month purchased at retail stores and pharmacies, this news left out the nation’s 62 million Medicare beneficiaries – seniors and people with disabilities who are at the highest risk of death from Covid-19. If paid for out-of-pocket, tests typically cost more than $20 for a package of two, which can discourage many Americans from getting tested.
The problem in the case of tests for Medicare beneficiaries was that the federal program’s rules did not permit coverage of over-the-counter tests. Amid pressure from Congress and advocacy groups, officials scrambled to find a regulatory workaround.
For more information about the free COVID tests from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, click here.