Medicare enrollees to get free COVID-19 exams at drug shops

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid worries that the newest coronavirus variant might spark one other rise in instances, Medicare introduced Monday that hundreds of thousands of enrollees will lastly have entry to free over-the-counter COVID-19 exams at drug shops.

Greater than 59 million folks with Medicare’s “Half B” outpatient protection will have the ability to stand up to eight free at-home exams per 30 days, or sufficient for a person to check twice per week, as some medical doctors have really helpful.

Medicare has lagged personal insurance coverage in following the Biden administration’s directive to cowl at-home exams as a result of guidelines and rules stood in the way in which, and officers needed to discover a work-around. That is the primary time the medical insurance program for older folks and people with disabilities has coated an over-the-counter check for free of charge to recipients.

Medicare’s transfer might turn into prescient.

The BA.2 omicron variant now accounts for greater than half of U.S. instances, having quickly overtaken the unique pressure. That preliminary omicron wave this winter brought about the largest spike but in virus instances, straining many hospitals to the restrict. Since then, instances nationally have quickly dropped to the bottom stage since earlier than final summer time’s delta surge. Coronavirus restrictions have been largely lifted. But some areas where BA.2 took hold early are seeing increasing cases.

Monday’s announcement adopted one other precautionary transfer final week, when government health officials authorized a second round of booster shots for folks 50 and older in addition to these with weakened immune techniques.

Nationwide pharmacy chains taking part in Medicare’s give-away embody: Albertsons Firms, Inc., Costco Pharmacy, CVS, Meals Lion, Large Meals, The Large Firm, Hannaford Pharmacies, H-E-B Pharmacy, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Kroger Household of Pharmacies, Ceremony Help Corp., Store & Cease, Walgreens and Walmart.

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