Feb 3, 2022 - Health

Medicare to cover at-home COVID tests

Picture of a person holding at-home covid tests
Employees of the Miami-Dade Public Library System distribute COVID home rapid test kits in Miami. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Medicare will start paying for at-home COVID-19 tests purchased through eligible pharmacies and retailers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday.

The big picture: The Biden administration last month started requiring health insurers to cover the costs of at-home tests. But at the time of the announcement, Medicare was not included in the mandate.

State of play: Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get up to eight over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests each month for free.

  • CMS "anticipates that this option will be available to people with Medicare in the early spring," according to a press release.

What they're saying: "This is the first time that Medicare has covered an over-the-counter test at no cost to beneficiaries," CMS said.

  • "There are a number of issues that have made it difficult to cover and pay for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. However, given the importance of expanding access to testing, CMS has identified a pathway that will expand access to free over-the-counter testing for Medicare beneficiaries."
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