By now, we know about the serious complications that can occur from COVID. Medicare has broad coverage of services related to treating and preventing the virus so you can stay protected. 

In this article, you’ll see how Medicare covers the COVID vaccine, options you have for free COVID tests, and COVID-related services that Medicare covers.

Key takeaways:

  • Medicare Part B covers the COVID-19 vaccine. 

  • Medicare doesn’t cover at-home tests, but you can get them for free at Covid.gov and at local community locations, like libraries.

  • Medicare covers services related to COVID like lab tests, antibody tests, medically necessary hospital stays, and oral antivirals. Read on for a more detailed list.

Does Medicare cover the COVID vaccine?

Yes, your COVID shot will be completely free under Medicare Part B. This means that you’ll be covered even if you don’t have a prescription drug plan (which is responsible for coverage of some vaccines). Remember to bring your Medicare card to the pharmacy or healthcare facility so they can bill Medicare. 

Medicare will even pay your healthcare provider to give you the COVID vaccine at home if you’re not able to leave your home to get the vaccination. If you need the vaccine administered at home, call your doctor and see if they can give you the vaccine at home. If they can’t, do one of the following:

  • Call 1-800-633-4227 for vaccine contacts in your state (1-877-486-2048 for TTY users)

  • See if your doctor can refer you to someone who can administer the vaccine at home

In any case, Medicare will pay for the full cost of a COVID vaccine, either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech. A few notes to keep in mind:

  • People who are immunocompromised and more prone to risk of complication can get a 3-dose series of the vaccine

  • If you’ve had a previous COVID vaccine, you can get doses of the updated formula

  • If you had COVID recently, you’ll have to wait at least 3 months before you get the updated vaccine based on CDC recommendations

Check the CDC website to find information on when you can receive the updated formula. 

Medicare free COVID tests by mail

Medicare doesn’t give free COVID tests by mail. It also doesn’t cover over-the-counter (OTC) tests. However, there are other ways you can receive free COVID tests:

  • Visit Covid.gov to get 8 free at-home tests per household (you’ll have to place 2 orders to receive 8 total)

  • Check your local community for free at-home tests—many libraries offer free kits, especially during peak season in the fall

  • Find a no-cost COVID-19 testing center near you (if you choose not to get a lab test)

Does Medicare cover Paxlovid?

Yes, Medicare will cover Paxlovid, an oral antiviral COVID treatment, through the end of 2024. You can receive coverage for Paxlovid in two different ways:

Other Medicare coverage of COVID-related services

Aside from the COVID vaccine, Medicare provides comprehensive coverage for items and services related to the virus as well. 

Lab tests for COVID

Medicare Part B pays for COVID testing when your healthcare provider recommends it. Testing must be done at a lab to receive Medicare coverage.

COVID antibody tests

An COVID antibody test checks to see if you have COVID antibodies and if you’ve been infected previously. Antibody testing determines what kind of immune response you have to COVID and whether or not you’re at immediate risk of reinfection. Medicare Part B fully covers the cost of the antibody test if your doctor orders it.

Monoclonal antibody treatments

A monoclonal antibody treatment can help you stay healthy and keep you out of the hospital if you test positive for COVID and have mild to moderate symptoms. During this treatment, a healthcare provider gives you a monoclonal antibody infusion. You’ll pay nothing for for this service if you:

  • Test positive for COVID-19 and are showing symptoms

  • Your symptoms are mild to moderate

  • You’re at risk of hospitalization or developing complications

Oral medications to treat COVID sickness with Medicare Part D

Oral antivirals are medications that stop the COVID-19 virus from duplicating in your body. They can help you if you’re at high risk for serious complications or sickness from COVID. A Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) covers oral antivirals. You may have to pay a deductible, copay, or coinsurance depending on your Part D plan.

Telehealth services through December 31, 2024

If you’re unable to get to your doctor’s office because of COVID symptoms, you can opt to see a healthcare provider using online video platforms on your phone or computer. Once you meet your Part B deductible, you’ll pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the telehealth service. If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, it will reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Note that after December 31, 2024, most telehealth services will require you to be in a rural area for coverage.

Medically necessary COVID hospitalizations

If your doctor believes you need hospital care to treat your COVID-related conditions, Medicare will pay for your hospital stay. However, you’ll still need to pay any necessary deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Medicare Part A covers hospital care. In 2024, your costs will be:

  • A per-stay deductible of $1,632

  • Coinsurance of $408 every day after your 60th day 

  • Coinsurance of $816 every day after your 90th day

Certain Medigap plans can help pay for these costs.

COVID and Medicare Advantage 

Medicare Advantage plans may cover these services differently depending on what plan you have. For example, some policies could ask you to pay a cost for lab tests. Also, if you have a Flex/OTC card, you may be able to order COVID tests with your included benefits. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your summary of benefits or contact your insurance provider with any questions about COVID-related services.

You can also reach out to one of our dedicated Medicare Advisors or Advocates to learn about how your plan covers services related to COVID. Get in touch with us at 855-900-2427 or schedule a time to talk for free, personalized support.

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