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February 04, 2022

At-home COVID-19 tests soon will be available for free to Medicare recipients

Beginning this spring, the tests can be picked up at pharmacies and health centers

Americans who are enrolled in Medicare plans no longer will have to pay for at-home COVID-19 tests beginning this spring. 

The Biden administration is requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services make over-the-counter COVID-19 tests available for free. The move will impact more than 63 million Americans. 

Medicare recipients will be eligible to receive up to eight tests per month at no cost. The tests will be available at pharmacies and community health centers. More information on participating locations will be available in the spring.

CMS will directly pay participating locations so that Medicare recipients can pick up the tests without needing to submit a reimbursement claim. Medicare recipients are encouraged to ask their pharmacies or health care providers to see if they're participating in the program. 

All at-home tests authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be covered.

Medicare has not covered at-home tests to this point in the pandemic. Program recipients have been permitted to access one lab-performed test without a physician's order and cost sharing.

Medicare Advantage plans may offer payment for the tests as an additional benefit to covering Medicare Part A and Part B. Beneficiaries who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan are encouraged to see if it includes the benefit.

Private insurers and group health plans already are required to cover up to eight at-home tests a month for each insured person. Consumers can buy the tests and then request reimbursement from their health insurance providers unless the insurer covers the cost at the time of purchase.

Additionally, the Biden administration has made all households eligible to receive four free at-home tests through the mail. They can be requested at

Some community health centers, including pharmacies and Federal Emergency Management Agency-run sites, are offering free testing. Philadelphia residents can use the city's COVID-19 testing finder to identify nearby sites.

New Jersey has partnered with Vault Medical Services to deliver free, at-home COVID-19 saliva tests to residents.

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