Medicare and COVID-19 Testing: What You Need to Know

Are you familiar with how Medicare coverage for COVID-19 testing works? Below we help explain the types of tests covered, cost, how to get tested at a facility, and options for free OTC tests from USPS to use at home.
pharmacist giving medicare recipient an at home COVID-19 test

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in one way or another, testing is one of the most important ways to control the spread of the virus. If you have Medicare, it’s important to understand your coverage for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 Testing and Medicare Coverage

Medicare Part B covers COVID-19 tests when a healthcare provider orders the test for you. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, you may be eligible for a test.

Medicare also covers tests for people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 even if they don’t have symptoms. This is because asymptomatic people can still spread the virus to others.

There are several types of COVID-19 tests including viral and antibody test. Viral tests will tell you if you currently have the virus. Antibody tests, on the other hand, tell you if you have had the virus in the past. Medicare only covers viral tests, not antibody tests.

It’s important to note that Medicare only covers tests that are FDA-authorized, or FDA-emergency use authorized. This means that some at-home tests may not be covered by Medicare.

COVID-19 Testing and Cost

Under the CARES Act, COVID-19 testing is free for everyone, including those with Medicare. This means that you should not be charged for the test, even if you have a copay or deductible.

However, if you receive other services, such as a doctor’s visit, along with your COVID-19 test, you may be responsible for some of the cost. You should check with your healthcare provider to see if you will be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs.

Getting a COVID-19 Test at a Testing Facility

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus, you should contact your healthcare provider. They will be able to order a test for you and let you know where you can go to get tested.

You can also use Medicare’s website to find COVID-19 testing locations near you. You can search by zip code and find locations that offer both drive-thru and walk-in testing.

Getting Over the Counter COVID Tests for Home

As of January 2022, Medicare has started covering OTC COVID-19 tests, which are available for free to Medicare beneficiaries. These tests can be purchased at pharmacies or online and are a convenient way to test for COVID-19 at home.

To get the OTC COVID-19 test kit for free, you’ll need to have Medicare Part B, and the test must be FDA-authorized. You can get up to four tests per month per beneficiary, and the tests can be used for symptom screening or to test for COVID-19.

To get the free OTC COVID-19 test kit, you can visit a participating pharmacy or order the test online. The cost of the test will be covered by Medicare, so you won’t need to pay out of pocket. Keep in mind that not all OTC tests are covered by Medicare. It’s important to check if the OTC test you choose is FDA-authorized before purchasing. Medicare has a list of participating pharmacies on their website.

At-Home Tests Delivered for Free from USPS

You can order one set of 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests from USPS with free shipping by going to It is important to note, the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration is set to end on May 11, 2023. After that date, you will no longer be able to get free at home tests including those delivered from USPS.

In conclusion, COVID-19 testing is an important tool in controlling the spread of the virus, and Medicare covers testing for those who are eligible. If you have symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus, contact your healthcare provider to see if you need a test.

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