Medicare Will Cover At-Home COVID-19 Tests Starting This Spring

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KEY POINTS

  • Currently, not all insured Americans can get free at-home COVID-19 tests.
  • Medicare will soon cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 test kits.


Medicare beneficiaries can soon get free at-home COVID-19 tests without paying out-of-pocket costs.

The availability and cost of at-home COVID-19 tests have been a hot topic throughout the pandemic. Since Jan. 15, 2022, many U.S. health insurers have been required to reimburse for the cost of at-home COVID-19 testing kits. But not all Americans are currently eligible for free over-the-counter testing kits -- including Medicare recipients. But that's about to change.

Since mid-January, private insurance companies have been required to reimburse for the cost of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. Insurers must reimburse eligible insurance members up to $12 per individual test.

In addition to offering reimbursement for testing costs, some insurers have also set up programs to help insured Americans get the tests they need without paying upfront costs.

But not all insured Americans can seek reimbursement for at-home COVID-19 tests. The current policy ignores many Americans on Medicare. Soon, the policy will change to allow those beneficiaries to get free over-the-counter tests.

What this means for Medicare beneficiaries

In the near future, all Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month at no cost. Tests will be made available at participating pharmacies and other retail locations.

Those eligible won't need to first pay for tests and then seek reimbursement. Instead, they will be able to pick up tests for free without paying out-of-pocket costs.

This change will make it easier for older Americans and younger people with disabilities and illnesses to get tested more conveniently without worrying about the cost of test kits. While there is no set start date yet, this program should be in place in early spring.

Additional free test and mask resources

The Biden Administration is also mailing free at-home test kits to all Americans -- regardless of their health insurance status. Tests can be requested at COVIDTests.gov and will be shipped directly to homes.

Each household will receive four free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. If you have yet to request your tests, be sure to take advantage of this free resource. At-home test kits make it easier to get tested within a matter of minutes.

High-quality face masks are another way to combat the virus. Free N95 masks will be made available throughout the country. Masks can be picked up in person at participating pharmacies and retailers. Each person can request three masks at no cost.

Many federal retail pharmacy partners will have free masks available. If you want free masks, contact eligible pharmacies in your local community to learn more about availability.

Keep your finances in mind

The pandemic has created added stress for many Americans, including financial stress. If you're looking to keep extra spending to a minimum, take advantage of available free and low-cost COVID-19 resources like the programs mentioned above.

Even if money is tight, you can make small changes that benefit your financial situation. Over time, these changes can add up. For additional tips to learn more ways to save money in your everyday life, check out our personal finance resources.

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