Created: January 18, 2022 05:01 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Free at-home COVID tests. That was the president's promise. And I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how all this is going to work. So here’s a primer.
First go to the government’s website, covidtests.gov.
Click on the big blue button that says “Order free at home test kits.” That takes you to the order page. You fill out your name and address. Then click the green button that says check out now. Your four kits will ship out later this month.
But what if you need a kit right now? The Biden administration has ordered insurers to cover the cost of at-home tests. So I'm going to walk you through the process with three popular insurers in our area.
If you have Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield or MVP, you can be reimbursed for up to eight tests every 30 days. You must save the receipt and the box the tests came in with the UPC. With MVP, you then submit the claim form, receipt and UPC. Excellus says on its website that it's still trying to figure out the claim submission process and will share it in a few days.
If you have Fidelis, you can get up to eight free test kits at CVS and other in-network pharmacies. You don’t have to submit a form for reimbursement.
But many of you have the same question as one viewer named Jean. She wrote, "So my story idea/request is an easy guide to getting the free COVID rapid tests covered by insurance, Medicare. many of my elderly neighbors are confused, as am I."
Jean, I so wish I had easy answers. But few things involving Medicare are simple. I feel your pain. I manage my father's Medicare Advantage plan. I've done lots of research. On the Medicare website it says, “At this time, original Medicare does not pay for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests…. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover and pay for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests.”
That requires you to check with each insurer. Isn't that nuts? I checked with three. On its website, MVP says it does not cover the tests for its Medicare Advantage members. I scoured the Fidelis websites. Fidelis covers the at-home test for Medicaid but I could find no evidence it covers its Medicare Advantage members. And Excellus says it will cover unlimited tests if you have a doctor's prescription which completely defeats the purpose of being able to get a quick, test to administer at home.
The good news, Jean, is you will get the four free tests for your household from the government.
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