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Medicare to Cover Over-the-Counter COVID-19 Tests

NEW YORK — The cost of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests will be fully covered for Medicare beneficiaries beginning this spring, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said on Thursday.

According to CMS, individuals in either original Medicare or Medicare Advantage will be able to access up to eight nonprescription COVID-19 tests per month for free under the program.

The policy covers tests that are approved or authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration, CMS said. Tests will be available through eligible pharmacies and other participating entities, which will be paid directly by Medicare.

The new policy marks the first time that over-the-counter COVID-19 tests will be covered by Medicare at no cost to beneficiaries and is the latest move by President Joe Biden to provide access to free testing for the disease.

In December, the White House announced a new plan that requires private health insurers to cover 100 percent of the cost of at-home tests purchased by plan members. That same month, Biden said that his administration would be distributing around 500 million free at-home COVID-19 tests, which could be requested via a website, beginning in 2022. In January, Biden said that the White House was securing an additional 500 million tests to distribute under that initiative.