On Medicare and Want a COVID-19 Test? Get Doctor's Authorization

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandated that COVID-19 testing is free for those with health insurance or Medicare.

And most Medicare Advantage plans have waived co-pays for primary care visits, tele-health visits, and COVID-19 tests, according to Jae Oh, author of Maximize Your Medicare.

But there's a catch. Oh said COVID-19 testing is free only for those persons who exhibit symptoms, and who have a doctor's authorization.

“It is not for prescreening just because you feel like you need to have a test because you may feel like you have been exposed,” he said.

According to the CMS, Medicare Advantage plans can’t charge copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance for clinical lab tests to detect or diagnose COVID-19. But Oh recommended eliminating any uncertainty. “It is safest for people to have a healthcare provider order the test, to ensure that you will not be charged,” said Oh.

The CMS also states that when tests are available for you in your state, Medicare covers and you pay nothing for:

  • Tests to diagnose or aid the diagnosis of COVID-19
  • Some tests for related respiratory conditions to aid diagnosis of COVID-19 done together with the COVID-19 test

Medicare covers these tests at different locations, including some “parking lot” test sites.

Medicare also covers COVID-19 antibody tests. Read Coronavirus Test Coverage.

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