The Biden administration said Thursday that Americans covered by Medicare, the federal insurance program for seniors, will be able to get free COVID-19 tests from pharmacies starting this spring.
Enrollees in Medicare or Medicare Advantage will be able to request up to eight tests per month at eligible pharmacies and other participating entities, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
“This is the first time that Medicare has covered an over-the-counter test at no cost to beneficiaries,” the 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.”
President Biden recently required private insurers to reimburse Americans for the cost of at-home COVID tests, though the plan left gaps for people covered by federal insurance programs.
The announcement for Medicare beneficiaries did not provide a launch date beyond “early spring.”
Until then, the administration said seniors should request free over-the-counter tests for home delivery at the U.S. Postal Service’s new website, covidtests.gov, or seek a test at a private lab or one of more than 20,000 free testing sites nationwide.
Traditional Medicare covers about 36 million seniors and persons with disabilities while Medicare Advantage, which provides Medicare through private insurers, covers about 28 million people.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.