FAQs on Medicare Coverage and Costs Related to COVID-19 Testing and Treatment

Source:  Juliette Cubanski and Meredith Freed  Published: Mar 30, 2020/https://www.kff.org/

More than 60 million people ages 65 and older and younger adults with long-term disabilities are covered by Medicare. Due to their older age and higher likelihood of having serious medical conditions than younger adults, virtually all Medicare beneficiaries are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they are infected with the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory disease, which currently has no vaccine or cure. Diagnosis of COVID-19 is confirmed through testing, and treatment varies based on the severity of illness.

These FAQs review current policies for Medicare coverage and costs associated with testing and treatment for COVID-19, including changes adopted in three recent bills: the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, enacted on March 6, 2020 (Public Law 116-123); the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted on March 18, 2020 (Public Law 116-127); and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27, 2020 (Public Law 116-136).

Does Medicare cover testing for COVID-19?

Yes, testing for COVID-19 is covered under Medicare Part B when it is ordered by a doctor or another health care provider that accepts Medicare, and if the test was ordered after February 4, 2020. Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover all Medicare Part A and Part B services, including COVID-19 testing.

How much do Medicare beneficiaries pay for COVID-19 testing?

Medicare beneficiaries who get tested for COVID-19 are not required to pay the Part B deductible or any coinsurance for this test, because clinical diagnostic laboratory tests are covered under traditional Medicare at no cost sharing. (Under traditional Medicare, beneficiaries typically face a $198 deductible for Part B services and coinsurance of 20 percent.) A provision in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act also eliminates beneficiary cost sharing for COVID-19 testing-related services, including the associated physician visit or other outpatient visit (such as hospital observation, E-visit, or emergency department services). A testing-related service is a medical visit furnished during the emergency period that results in ordering or administering the test. The law also eliminates cost sharing for Medicare Advantage enrollees for both the COVID-19 test and testing-related services, and prohibits the use of prior authorization or other utilization management requirements for these services.

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