Medicare beneficiaries are able to receive up to eight free over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests each month. The tests are available if you visit a participating pharmacy or other health care provider.
This initiative is in effect as long as the federal government determines a Public Health Emergency (PHE) exists. The COVID-19 PHE began on January 27, 2020, and has been renewed every 90 days, the latest effective April 16, 2022.
OTC at-home tests give rapid results, and you can take them anywhere, regardless of your vaccination status or whether you have symptoms. Visit CDC.gov to learn when to test yourself, how to use an OTC test, and what your test results mean.
See how you can get your free at-home COVID-19 tests.
How Do You Get Free At-home COVID-19 Tests Through Medicare?
You can pick up your free OTC rapid tests at participating pharmacies and other health care providers. Before you go, call the pharmacy or provider to make sure they have tests available for you. Remember to bring your red, white, and blue Medicare card.
Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers the costs of the free at-home tests. The tests are not covered if you only have Medicare Part A (hospital insurance). If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan as an alternative way to get your Medicare benefits, Medicare pays for the free at-home tests through Part B.
Here is a partial list of pharmacies and website links participating in the Medicare COVID-19 OTC tests initiative. You do not need to be a current customer or user of these pharmacies to get your free at-home tests as long as they are available and you show your red, white, and blue Medicare card.
If you are looking for a pharmacy not listed above, Call (800) MEDICARE or (800) 633-4227 to find access to free tests. TTY: (877) 486-2048. You can also contact your pharmacy or health care provider directly to ask if they are participating in the free-test initiative and will bill Medicare on your behalf.
When can you get free at-home COVID-19 Tests with Original Medicare?
You can get free at-home COVID-19 tests with Original Medicare Part B from a participating pharmacy or health care provider now. You are eligible to get eight more free tests each month as long as the PHE is in effect.
When can you get free at-home COVID-19 Tests with Medicare Advantage
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. You must be enrolled in both before you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan. The free at-home COVID-19 tests may not be available as a benefit through your Medicare Advantage Plan, but you can still get up to eight free at-home tests monthly through Medicare Part B. You can contact your plan to see if it offers free at-home tests. Even if it does, you are still eligible for the free tests through this Medicare initiative.
Will you need to pay for COVID-19 tests and be reimbursed?
You will not need to pay upfront for COVID-19 tests and be reimbursed if you obtain tests from participating pharmacies and health care providers.
Can you get reimbursed for the COVID-19 tests you already purchased?
Medicare will not reimburse you for COVID-19 tests you already purchased because, up until April 4, 2022, the Medicare program prohibited coverage for self-administered tests. The new initiative detailed in this article circumvents that requirement as long as the PHE is in effect.
If you have health coverage through a private insurance company, you can get reimbursed for the COVID-19 tests you purchased on or after January 15, 2022. Submit your receipt as proof of purchase with your reimbursement claim.
How Can I Access Free COVID-19 Tests Through Medicare Now?
Now that the free at-home test initiative has begun, the best way to access free COVID-19 tests through Medicare is to find a participating pharmacy or health care provider. In addition or alternatively, Medicare beneficiaries can:
- Request free OTC tests for home delivery at covidtests.gov
- Access low-to-no-cost COVID-19 tests through health care providers at more than 20,000 free community testing sites nationwide
- Access lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and antigen tests at a laboratory when the test is ordered by a physician, nonphysician practitioner, pharmacist, or other authorized health care professional. PCR tests take longer than rapid at-home tests.
- Get up to one lab-performed test during the COVID-19 PHE without an order.
Learn More From Our Sources
- CMS | COVID-19 Over-the-Counter Tests and Medicare | Last accessed February 2024
- CMS | How to Get Your At-Home OTC Test for Free | Last accessed February 2024
- CDC | OTC COVID-19 Self-Testing at Home or Anywhere | Last accessed February 2024
- HHS | Renewal of Public Health Emergency | Last accessed February 2024
- Medicare | Medicare and Coronavirus | Last accessed February 2024
- Medicare | Your Medicare Card | Last accessed February 2024