WASHINGTON – Amid fears that the latest coronavirus variant could trigger a further spike in cases, Medicare announced Monday that millions of policyholders will finally have access to free over-the-counter medicines COVID-19 testing at drugstores.
More than 59 million people with Medicare’s “Part B” outpatient health insurance can get up to eight free home tests a month, or enough for a person to test twice a week, some doctors have recommended.
Medicare has lagged behind private insurance in following the Biden administration’s policy of covering home testing as rules and regulations got in the way and officials had to find a workaround. This is the first time the health insurance program for the elderly and people with disabilities will cover an over-the-counter test at no cost to recipients.
Medicare’s move could turn out to be prescient.
The BA.2 omicron variant now accounts for more than half of US cases, having quickly overtaken the original strain. This first wave of Omicrons this winter caused the biggest spike in virus cases to date, straining many hospitals to the breaking point. Since then, cases nationwide have quickly fallen to the lowest level since before last summer’s delta surge. The corona restrictions have largely been lifted. However, cases are increasing in some areas where BA.2 caught on early.
Monday’s announcement followed another cautionary move last week when Government health officials approved a second round of booster shots for people over 50 and people with a weakened immune system.
National pharmacy chains participating in the Medicare giveaway include: Albertsons Companies, Inc., Costco Pharmacy, CVS, Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford Pharmacies, HEB Pharmacy, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Kroger Family of Pharmacies , Rite Aid Corp., Shop & Stop, Walgreens and Walmart.
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https://www.ksat.com/news/politics/2022/04/04/medicare-enrollees-to-get-free-covid-19-tests-at-drug-stores/ Medicare enrollments get free COVID-19 testing at drugstores