CMS, ACL Announces a New Way for Medicare Beneficiaries to Get Free Over-the-Counter COVID-19 Tests

The Biden Administration announced that more than 59 million Americans with Medicare Part B, including those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, now have access to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, authorized, or cleared over-the-counter

COVID-19 tests at no cost. People with Medicare can get up to eight tests per calendar month from participating pharmacies and health care providers for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This is the first time that Medicare has covered an over-the-counter self-administered test at no cost to beneficiaries. This new initiative enables payment from Medicare directly to participating eligible pharmacies and other health care providers to allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive in addition to the two sets of four free at-home COVID-19 tests Americans can continue to order from covidtests.gov.

Providers and suppliers eligible to participate include certain types of pharmacies and other health care providers who are enrolled in Medicare and able to furnish ambulatory health care services such as preventive vaccines, COVID-19 testing and regular medical visits. To ensure that people with Medicare have access to these tests, Medicare is not requiring participating eligible pharmacies and health care providers go through any new Medicare enrollment processes. If a health care provider currently provides ambulatory health care services such as vaccines, lab tests or other clinic type visits to people with Medicare, then they are eligible to participate in this initiative.

A list of eligible pharmacies and other health care providers that have committed publicly to participate in this initiative can be found here. Because additional eligible pharmacies and health care providers may also participate, people with Medicare should check with their pharmacy or health care provider to find out whether they are participating.

This initiative adds to existing options for people with Medicare to access COVID-19 testing, including:

  • Requesting free over-the-counter tests for home delivery at covidtests.gov. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order two sets of four at-home COVID-19 tests.
  • Access to no-cost COVID-19 tests through health care providers at over 20,000 testing sites nationwide. A list of community-based testing sites can be found here.
  • Access to lab-based PCR tests and antigen tests performed by a laboratory when the test is ordered by a physician, non-physician practitioner, pharmacist, or other authorized health care professional at no cost through Medicare.
  • In addition to accessing a COVID-19 laboratory test ordered by a health care professional, people with Medicare can also access one lab-performed test without an order and cost-sharing during the public health emergency.

For more information, please see this fact sheet:

People with Medicare can get additional information by contacting 1-800-MEDICARE and going to: https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus. Medicare also maintains several resources to help ensure beneficiaries receive the correct benefits while also avoiding the potential for fraud or scams. More details—particularly on identifying scams due to

COVID19—can be found at https://www.medicare.gov/basics/reporting-medicare-fraud-and-abuse.