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Medicare will quickly begin masking the price of at-home Covid checks

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Photos

Medicare beneficiaries will be capable of get at-home Covid checks for free of charge starting early this spring, the federal government introduced Thursday.

The initiative comes after Medicare was not a part of a Biden administration mandate that non-public insurers cowl the price of over-the-counter checks — as much as eight per enrollee per 30 days. The deliberate change in protection means all Medicare beneficiaries — together with these on Benefit Plans — will likely be entitled to the identical.

About 63.3 million individuals are enrolled in Medicare. Many of the beneficiaries, 55.1 million, are age 65 or older, and the remainder are typically youthful with everlasting disabilities. In different phrases, it is a inhabitants that typically is at greater threat for extreme sickness from Covid.

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Retail costs for over-the-counter at-home Covid checks can vary from as little as $10 to a whole bunch of {dollars}. Checks at laboratories can run significantly extra.

Whereas Medicare’s protection of the at-home checks will not begin till spring, there are methods for beneficiaries to get free checks within the meantime.

For starters, you may order 4 totally free by way of, a brand new authorities web site that launched in January. The positioning, which is obtainable to all households, requires you to offer solely your identify and deal with; no insurance coverage data is required. 

“That is an possibility that every one Medicare beneficiaries can faucet to get entry to free at-home testing,” mentioned Juliette Cubanski, deputy director of this system on Medicare coverage on the Kaiser Household Basis.

Moreover, there are Medicare-certified well being clinics, in addition to group well being facilities, the place the at-home checks could be picked up totally free.

For beneficiaries who’re enrolled in a Medicare Benefit Plan, it is value checking whether or not the plan is already masking at-home checks, Cubanski mentioned.

And, after all, beneficiaries can nonetheless entry free testing outdoors their residence at one of more than 20,000 testing sites the place lab-based PCR checks, speedy PCR checks and speedy antigen checks can be found.

Additionally, if a physician or different licensed health-care supplier orders it, there isn’t a cost-sharing for the take a look at. In any other case, beneficiaries are allowed to get one lab take a look at totally free per yr with no physician’s order.

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