Feb. 4, 2022
Medicare will cowl the price of over-the-counter fast COVID-19 assessments starting within the “early spring,” based on an announcement from the Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Providers on Thursday.
Individuals enrolled in both Unique Medicare or Medicare Benefit will have the ability to decide up as many as eight assessments per 30 days totally free via “eligible pharmacies and different collaborating entities.” The coverage will apply to over-the-counter COVID-19 assessments permitted or approved by the FDA.
“That is the primary time that Medicare has coated an over-the-counter take a look at for gratis to beneficiaries,” based on the announcement.
The brand new coverage will enable Medicare to pay collaborating pharmacies and well being suppliers instantly fairly than require reimbursement.
“There are a selection of points which have made it tough to cowl and pay for over-the-counter COVID-19 assessments,” the announcement mentioned. “Nonetheless, given the significance of increasing entry to testing, CMS has recognized a pathway that can develop entry to free over-the-counter testing for Medicare beneficiaries.”
The announcement comes after weeks of criticism from lawmakers and well being care specialists, who’ve referred to as for Medicare recipients to obtain protection for testing, in accordance to The New York Instances. Within the current Biden administration push to require non-public insurers to cowl at-home assessments, 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 related with their family members and group,” Nancy LeaMond, government vp for AARP, mentioned in an announcement following the CMS announcement.
“Each American ought to have a straightforward approach to get at-home COVID assessments,” she mentioned. “We all know that individuals 65 and older are at a lot higher threat of significant sickness and loss of life from this illness — they want equal entry to instruments that may assist maintain them protected.”
The Biden administration hasn’t mentioned what number of pharmacies or well being suppliers will take part or when the brand new coverage shall be enacted within the “early spring.”
Till then, the CMS announcement mentioned, individuals with Medicare can entry free assessments via a number of choices:
- Request 4 free over-the-counter assessments for dwelling supply at covidtests.gov.
- Entry COVID-19 assessments via healthcare suppliers at greater than 20,000 free testing websites throughout the nation. A listing of web sites is out there on the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers web site.
- Get free lab-based PCR assessments and antigen assessments carried out by a lab when the take a look at is ordered by a physician, non-physician practitioner, pharmacist or different approved well being care skilled.
The CMS additionally created a steadily requested questions web page concerning the new coverage, which incorporates telephone numbers for listening to impaired callers and those that want assist in one other language.