Although the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations has continued to decline in Wisconsin, the need for testing continues. This past week, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare will begin to cover over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for beneficiaries beginning in early spring.
CMS began requiring private insurers to cover at-home or over-the-counter COVID tests beginning Jan. 15, 2022 (see previous edition
of The Valued Voice
). Similar to enrollees of private insurance, those enrolled in Medicare—whether in traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage—will be able to access up to eight at-home tests per month with no cost sharing.
According to a release from the agency, this is the first time that Medicare will cover an over-the-counter test at no cost to beneficiaries.
CMS indicates that Medicare Advantage plans may offer coverage and payment for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests as a supplemental benefit in addition to covering Medicare Part A and Part B benefits, so Medicare beneficiaries covered by Medicare Advantage should check with their insurance plan to see if it includes such a benefit.
Otherwise, until the full benefit goes into effect, people with Medicare can access free tests through community sites or by requesting four free over-the-counter tests for home delivery at covidtests.gov
For those with Medicaid, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) currently offers recipients free at-home tests. The DHS website
includes details about how to access tests for people with Medicaid coverage.