Serving Washington State
   (253) 838-3454

Send us a Message

Serving Washington State  (253)838-3454

Send us a Message

News Update: In a Significant Policy Reversal, Medicare Will Begin Covering Cost of At-Home COVID Tests Later This Spring

Just last week here on the AgingOptions blog, we shared a perplexing report that – for reasons best known to federal policy-makers – the free in-home COVID test kits being offered to insurance beneficiaries across America were not going to be offered to the one group in greatest need: those on Medicare. “There’s one group conspicuously left out of the free-test-kit offer: Medicare beneficiaries,” we wrote. “The oversight seems inexplicable to us.”

As our blog article explained, the pushback from Congress and from senior advocacy groups began immediately. This week, we’re glad to report – surprisingly – that all the angry response has already borne fruit. In this CNBC update, written by reporter Sarah O’Brien, we learn that the federal government has officially reversed course.

CMS Announces a Rapid Policy About-Face

As CNBC reported, “Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get free at-home COVID tests beginning early this spring, the government announced Thursday.” This press release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outlined the policy change.

“This is the first time that Medicare has covered an over-the-counter test at no cost to beneficiaries,” the CMS announcement stated. The agency cited unspecified difficulties in paying for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. “However,” CMS added, “given the importance of expanding access to testing, CMS has identified a pathway that will expand access to free over-the-counter testing for Medicare beneficiaries.”  Considering the pressure that they were under, that’s not necessarily a surprise.

Medicare Beneficiaries Would Have Faced Higher Costs for Test Kits

This about-face has real impact on the populations most at-risk for COVID. O’Brien explains, “About 63.3 million people are enrolled in Medicare. Most of the beneficiaries, 55.1 million, are age 65 or older, and the balance are generally younger with permanent disabilities.”

It came as a shock to many, then, that Medicare was left out of the original Biden administration mandate that up to eight over-the-counter COVID tests per month per enrollee be covered by private insurers. “Retail prices for over-the-counter at-home COVID tests can range from as little as $10 to hundreds of dollars,” O’Brien writes. “Tests at laboratories can run considerably more.” The change in the law represents a tangible savings for millions.

The coverage change will entitle every Medicare beneficiary—including those on Medicare Advantage Plans—to be included in the mandate, in which “insurance companies are required to reimburse their enrollees at a rate of up to $12 per test (or the cost of the test, if less),” allowing those most vulnerable to have crucial access to testing.

If You Can’t Wait Until Spring, You Have Options

The cynics among us might say that there has to be a hiccup here, and they would be right…sort of. The new coverage doesn’t begin until spring, which means a gap in reimbursement for those in need of tests now. All is not lost, though, if you need access to tests right away.

O’Brien writes, “For starters, you can order four [test kits] for free through, a government website that launched last month. The site, which is available to all households, requires you to provide only your name and address; no insurance information is needed.”

And Medicare beneficiaries are always able to access testing through the usual means. O’Brien suggests that “beneficiaries can still access free testing outside their home at one of more than 20,000 testing sites where lab-based PCR tests, rapid PCR tests and rapid antigen tests are available.”

“Also,” she adds, “if a doctor or other authorized health-care provider orders it, there is no cost-sharing for the test. Otherwise, beneficiaries are allowed to get one lab test for free per year without a doctor’s order.”

Medicare Advantage Rules Vary by Company

We all know that reading the fine print is vital, so if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan you might want to check to see if you’re eligible for free at-home tests already, since the plans can vary widely in benefits. 

Those already eligible for free test kits “can also pick them up at Medicare-certified health clinics and community health centers,” O’Brien writes.

While the timeline may not be ideal for everyone, the hope is that at-home testing will soon become accessible and widespread to those who need it most. We will continue to watch this story as it develops, and bring you any updates that we feel are relevant.

My Life, My Plan, My Way: Get Started on the Path to Retirement Success

At AgingOptions we believe the key to a secure retirement is the right retirement plan – yet statistics show that 70 percent of retirement plans fail. That’s why for nearly two decades we’ve been dedicated to the proposition that a carefully-crafted, fully comprehensive retirement plan is the best answer to virtually any contingency life may throw your way as you age.  Our slogan says it all: My Life, My Plan, My Way.

When it comes to retirement planning, most people focus on one fairly narrow issue: money. Financial planning is an important component of retirement planning. However, people heading towards retirement often make the mistake of thinking that a little financial planning is all that’s required, when in fact most financial plans are woefully inadequate. What about your medical coverage? What if you have to make a change in your housing status – will that knock your financial plan off course? Are you adequately prepared legally for the realities of retirement and estate planning? And is your family equipped to support your plans for the future as you age?

The best way we know of to successfully blend all these elements together – finance, medical, housing, legal and family – is with a LifePlan from AgingOptions. Thousands of people have discovered the power of LifePlanning and we encourage you to the same. Simply visit our website and discover a world of retirement planning resources.  Make certain your retirement planning is truly comprehensive and complete with an AgingOptions LifePlan.  Age on!

(originally reported at


A Washington Resident's Guide to Medicaid Long-Term Care Benefits

Learn the basic rules of Medicaid Long-Term Care in Washington from an expert who has helped thousands of people qualify for these life-saving benefits. Written by elder law attorney Aaron Paker, this easy-to-read book explains the rules in language everyone can understand. If you want straight talk about what benefits are available to pay for long-term care for an elderly loved one, this book is a must-read.

Information about person you are referring

Thank you for thinking of referring a friend or family member to us. The highest accolade you can give us is that of this referral. Rest assured, we will work hard to ensure that your trust in us is well placed.

Refer a Friend

Your information:

Person you are referring:

Penny for Your Thoughts

Send us a message


Congratulations! You are about to begin the process of completing estate planning documents – for free.

Before you get started, you should know that though this service is being provided by Life Point Law, an estate planning firm, by using the free service you will not be creating an attorney-client relationship, and no attorney will review your work. Estate planning can be complicated and generally requires some degree of legal analysis to ensure you have the right provisions. Especially if you have been married more than once, you have a blended family, or you have considerable wealth. We encourage you to seek some guidance, or at the very least, have a legal professional review your work before you call it completed.

Help is available. If you’re interested in getting a second opinion on the legal documents you have created, Life Point Law offers a Peace of Mind review that can put your mind at ease knowing you have dotted all your I’s and crossed all your T’s. Let our skilled attorneys review the legal documents you have created to make sure they meet your goals.

You may also want to drop by our offices to get your documents executed (witnessed and notarized) so they are in full force and effect when they need to be used.

You will receive an email soon with information about how to schedule your Peace of Mind Consultation.

By clicking ‘Start Working on Your Free Estate Plan’ below, you will acknowledge your understanding that no attorney-client relationship exists between Life Point Law and yourself.