Medicare Part B is medical coverage for people with Original Medicare benefits. It covers doctor visits, preventative care, tests, durable medical equipment, and supplies. Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of most medically necessary healthcare services. fully covers diagnostic tests for COVID-19. In some circumstances, a home health nurse, laboratory technician, or an appropriately trained medical assistant may collect the beneficiary’s test sample in their home for this test.
- COVID-19 is a respiratory virus related to illnesses like the common cold and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
- COVID-19 first appeared in late 2019 and was declared a pandemic in March 2020 by the World Health Organization.
- Testing for COVID-19 is conducted by taking a nasal or saliva sample and testing for the virus’s genetic or protein materials.
- Rapid on-site testing is available for COVID-19, but longer off-site lab testing yields more accurate results.
- COVID-19 antibody testing is fully covered by Medicare Part B at any Medicare-approved facility.
- Medicare Advantage provides coverage for COVID-19 testing but may require testing within the plan’s network of providers.
What Is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a class of viruses that cause illnesses like the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). This new virus is known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease is now commonly known as COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). Symptoms for COVID-19 can include:1Mayoclinic.org, “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)“, Accessed October 29, 2021
- Loss of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Chest pain
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
In response to the rapid spread of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic in March 2020. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO closely monitor the pandemic and regularly post updates on their websites. These public health groups also offer recommendations on how to prevent and treat the disease.1Mayoclinic.org, “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)“, Accessed October 29, 2021
How Is the COVID Test Administered?
- PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which are a laboratory technique used to detect the genetic material of COVID-19. A swab is inserted in the back of the nostril or throat to collect a fluid sample for PCR testing. Sample testing can be conducted rapidly on-site for faster results, but having it sent to a proper lab for analysis for a couple of days is less likely to produce a false-negative test result.
- Antigen tests, which are used to detect specific proteins found in the coronavirus. Antigen tests require a nasal fluid sample via swabbing and results can be acquired rapidly. There is a chance of receiving a false-negative test result with this method, so a beneficiary’s doctor may ask them to receive a PCR test as well to confirm the result.
How Does Medicare Cover COVID Testing?
COVID-19 testing is covered in full under Medicare Part B. The test costs nothing when administered in any Medicare-covered facility, such as a laboratory, pharmacy, hospital, or a Medicare-approved parking lot test site. Medicare may cover a home health nurse, laboratory technician, or an appropriately-trained medical assistant to collect a testing sample from a A person who has health care insurance through the Medicare or Medicaid programs. in their home if the beneficiary cannot leave their home.3Medicare.gov, “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests“, Accessed October 29, 2021
How Much Does COVID Testing Cost?
You pay nothing for a COVID test in a Medicare-approved facility. Medicare Part B normally covers 80 percent of costs for approved services. However, this is not the case with COVID testing services. You do not have to worry about any A deductible is an amount a beneficiary must pay for their health care expenses before the health insurance policy begins to pay its share., A copayment, also known as a copay, is a set dollar amount you are required to pay for a medical service., or coinsurances.3Medicare.gov, “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests“, Accessed October 29, 2021
Medicare Advantage (MA), also known as Medicare Part C, are health plans from private insurance companies that are available to people eligible for Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B). are required to cover the same services as Medicare Part A is hospital coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. It covers inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. It also covers limited home healthcare services and hospice care. and Part B, in addition to any expanded services offered. That includes COVID-19 tests. However, Medicare Advantage plan rules may require their members to use network providers for all tests, including the COVID-19 antibody test.4Medicare.gov, “How do Medicare Advantage Plans work?“, Accessed October 29, 2021
Original Medicare is private fee-for-service health insurance for people on Medicare. It has two parts. Part A is hospital coverage. Part B is medical coverage. and Medicare Advantage plans cover COVID-19 antibody tests in full. You pay nothing out-of-pocket for this service. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and/or have been in contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19, go get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Many parking lot COVID-19 test sites do not need an appointment, so you can just walk up and request a test.
- 1Mayoclinic.org, “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)“, Accessed October 29, 2021
- 2Mayoclinic.org, “COVID-19 diagnostic testing“, Accessed October 29, 2021
- 3Medicare.gov, “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests“, Accessed October 29, 2021
- 4Medicare.gov, “How do Medicare Advantage Plans work?“, Accessed October 29, 2021