One of the most effective tools for diagnosing the presence of and the monitoring of recovery from the COVID virus is the At-Home test kit. The good news is that as of January 2022 the Federal Government enacted a program where private health insurance companies and the Medicaid program will cover the cost of at-home COVID test kits. There is a limit of 8 monthly free test kits per person and payment will be made directly to participating healthcare providers, community testing sites, and approved pharmacies.

How Can Medicare Recipients Get Free At-Home COVID Tests?

Whether you have private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or no insurance at all, you can get free rapid at-home COVID test kits from the Federal Government by requesting the home kits at their website: These are rapid antigen COVID test kits that give you results within 15 to 30 minutes. After you have filled out the short questionnaire, the website states that the test kits will be delivered by the US Postal Service within 7 to 12 working days from your registration. If you are not computer savvy, you can get assistance with placing an order by calling 1-800-232-0233. Individuals with hearing impairments can call the TTY phone number 1-888-720-7489 to place an order. If you have poor eyesight, ask a family member or caregiver to make the call for you.

Why Does Medicare Not Pay For At-Home COVID Tests?

The barrier that prevents Medicare from covering at-home COVID test kits is that this federal insurance program is not able to pay for over-the-counter, at-home, self-administered tests. Medicare does cover medically ordered COVID PCR testing that is performed by Medicare-approved testing sites, healthcare providers, hospitals, and authorized pharmacies with the results being diagnosed by a laboratory. The PCR, Polymerase Chain Reaction, COVID test is more accurate than the rapid antigen test for diagnosing active infections.

Will Medicare Pay For At-Home COVID Tests?

Recognizing the need for anyone on Medicare to have equal access to the free at-home test kits, federal lawmakers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced on February 4, 2022, that Medicare recipients can get Medicare-covered at-home COVID tests beginning in the spring timeframe.

What Is the Value Of A COVID Rapid Antigen Test?

Having one or more rapid test kits means that you will be able to test yourself whenever any of the following happens:
–If you think that you have any of the COVID symptoms.
–If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the COVID virus or any of its variants. You need to test yourself within 3 to 5 days of potential exposure to an infected person.
–If you are going to an indoor event where there will be a large number of people and not enough room to socially distance yourself from strangers. You can reduce the chances of getting or spreading a virus infection by testing yourself prior to social engagements.
–If you are going to be with someone who is immunocompromised, or with someone you know is unvaccinated, or with older friends or family members who are at higher risk of infections.

The rapid test kits are easy to carry with you when you are going outdoors and you can self-test yourself anywhere. You will have the results in a few minutes. Be sure to contact your primary healthcare provider if any of the rapid tests show a positive result and immediately self-isolate until your physician tells you that you are recovered.

Bottom Line

While Medicare does not currently cover the cost of at-home rapid COVID tests, these tests will be covered starting in the early springtime. When Medicare coverage starts, you will need to go to a Medicare-approved location to pick them up. If you do not, or cannot, go to a medical facility, you have the option of getting free at-home rapid COVID test kits offered by the Federal Government on their website, and the kits will be delivered directly to your home address. Having several at-home rapid COVID test kits on hand can give you a measure of comfort and safety. Get your at-home test kits for your own peace of mind and for the health of both yourself and all those you care about.

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