In this Q&A series, Medicare expert Christian Worstell answers your questions about Medicare coverage, benefits, eligibility, enrollment and more. Christian is a licensed insurance agent and frequent contributor to MedicareAdvantage.com.
"My husband and I will be traveling soon to visit some extended family, and we would like to get tested for COVID-19 before leaving (and perhaps again upon our return). Does Original Medicare cover COVID-19 tests? How much would it cost to get tested?" – Sandra L., Fresno, CA
Hi Sandra. Thanks for writing in.
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First, you’re doing the smart thing by getting tested before traveling. And second, you’re in luck: Original Medicare covers COVID-19 testing with no out-of-pocket Medicare costs to you.
Tests for the coronavirus are covered by Medicare Part B, much like many other tests and screenings. You do not need to obtain a referral from a physician in order to get a COVID-19 test and have it covered by Medicare. So even if you are not experiencing any signs or symptoms of the virus, you may still get tested at your own discretion and it will be covered by Part B.
And the good news for you doesn’t stop there.
Because the COVID-19 test is considered a clinical diagnostic laboratory test (no matter where it is actually administered), it is provided with no cost sharing. That means you will not have to pay anything toward your annual Part B deductible or any Part B coinsurance for the test.
A provision in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act also excludes any cost sharing for services related to COVID-19 testing such as fees for doctor’s office visits or other outpatient services directly related to your test.
Lastly, Medicare Part B will also provide full coverage of COVID-19 antibody tests, which help determine if an individual has already been infected by the virus and developed immunity.
So to sum it up, you should not have to pay anything for a COVID-19 test if you have Medicare Part B.
Testing access varies by state, but COVID-19 tests can typically be performed at health clinics, doctor’s offices and pharmacies. And many communities have been staging drive-thru testing centers in parking lots.
The Department of Health and Human Services offers a COVID-19 test center locator. To find a testing facility near you, just select your state from the dropdown menu or scroll down to your respective state to see your options.
Learn more about how the additional ways Medicare is helping cover beneficiaries during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks for your question, and travel safe.
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Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
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