Feb. 4, 2022
Medicare will cowl the price of over-the-counter speedy COVID-19 exams starting within the “early spring,” in line with an announcement from the Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Companies on Thursday.
Individuals enrolled in both Authentic Medicare or Medicare Benefit will have the ability to choose up as many as eight exams per 30 days free of charge by “eligible pharmacies and different collaborating entities.” The coverage will apply to over-the-counter COVID-19 exams authorized or licensed by the FDA.
“That is the primary time that Medicare has coated an over-the-counter check for free of charge to beneficiaries,” in line with the announcement.
The brand new coverage will permit Medicare to pay collaborating pharmacies and well being suppliers straight relatively than require reimbursement.
“There are a variety of points which have made it troublesome to cowl and pay for over-the-counter COVID-19 exams,” the announcement stated. “Nonetheless, given the significance of increasing entry to testing, CMS has recognized a pathway that can increase entry to free over-the-counter testing for Medicare beneficiaries.”
The announcement comes after weeks of criticism from lawmakers and well being care consultants, who’ve known as for Medicare recipients to obtain protection for testing, in accordance to The New York Times. Within the current Biden administration push to require non-public insurers to cowl at-home exams, the 64 million Medicare beneficiaries weren’t included.
“Expanded entry to no-cost testing will assist shield seniors who’ve been hit hardest by the pandemic and guarantee they will stay linked with their family members and group,” Nancy LeaMond, government vp for AARP, stated in a statement following the CMS announcement.
“Each American ought to have a simple approach to get at-home COVID exams,” she stated. “We all know that individuals 65 and older are at a lot larger threat of significant sickness and demise from this illness — they want equal entry to instruments that may assist maintain them secure.”
The Biden administration hasn’t stated what number of pharmacies or well being suppliers will take part or when the brand new coverage will likely be enacted within the “early spring.”
Till then, the CMS announcement stated, individuals with Medicare can entry free exams by a number of choices:
- Request 4 free over-the-counter exams for house supply at covidtests.gov.
- Entry COVID-19 exams by healthcare suppliers at greater than 20,000 free testing websites throughout the nation. A list of sites is out there on the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies web site.
- Get free lab-based PCR exams and antigen exams carried out by a lab when the check is ordered by a health care provider, non-physician practitioner, pharmacist or different licensed well being care skilled.
The CMS additionally created a frequently asked questions web page concerning the new coverage, which incorporates telephone numbers for listening to impaired callers and people who want assist in one other language.