In a reversal of an earlier position, seniors on Medicare are now authorized to get up to eight free Covid-19 home tests each month. Some tests are available immediately. Others will become available later this spring.
Prior to the change, the Biden administration had said that Covid home tests would not be universally covered by Medicare.
First Tests Can be Ordered Online
Medicare recipients can currently order Covid home test kits through the new government-run website. Distribution of some one billion test kits has already begun with packages arriving at homes daily.
Each household is able to order four kits per address. Kits are delivered by the U.S. Postal Service and generally arrive within 7-to-12 days. To order go to CovidTests.gov. Individuals without website access or who need additional help can call 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish and more than 150 other languages.
In addition to the home test kits, Medicare has been covering Covid-19 tests ordered or prescribed by doctors and other health care practitioners. These include lab-based PCR tests as well as antigen tests.
COVID-19 tests are available to everyone in the U.S., including those on Medicare and even the uninsured. The Department of Health & Human Services provides easy access to find health centers and pharmacies that offer low or no-cost testing. In addition, websites from leading drug retailers including CVS Health, Rite Aid and Walgreens have information accessible via their websites.
Tests Purchased at Pharmacies and Retailers
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) anticipates that it will start paying in early spring for home tests purchased at participating pharmacies and retailers.
In the interim, experts recommend that individuals with health insurance or Medicare Supplement insurance or Medicare Advantage plans should contact their plan to find out if they provide direct coverage for home tests. Individuals covered by Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, already cover home tests with no cost-sharing. But enrollees in these programs are still advised to contact their state agencies for specific coverage details.