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Tricare, veterans insurance does not cover at-home COVID tests

Tricare, veterans insurance does not cover at-home COVID tests
Posted at 8:47 AM, Feb 04, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — At-home COVID-19 tests are another way to help slow the spread of the virus. However, not everyone is eligible just yet to get free at-home COVID tests from their local pharmacy, including veterans and older Americans.

People with Medicare and Tricare insurance are excluded from the Biden administration's mandate. The new federal plan which began in mid-January requires private health insurers and group health insurers to pay for up to eight at-home home COVID tests every month.

That leaves out people with Medicare and Tricare insurance. Medicare insures more than 60 million older Americans, and Tricare insures more than nine million veterans in the United States.

In a reverse decision though, yesterday, the Biden administration announced that beginning in the spring, people with Medicare can get up to eight free COVID tests each month. It's the first time that Medicare has covered an over-the-counter test at no cost to beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, a local physician said this is a small part of a larger problem which is our nation's inequitable healthcare system.

"The federal government is mandating coverage for a benefit from private insurance. At the same time, federal insurances are not required to cover that benefit. We have this fragmented health care, we have inequitable health care where patients get different levels of care depending on what insurance they have. That is unsettling to me. That is mind boggling to me," said Dr. Richard Vu, a physician at at Matthews-Vu Medical Group. "Patients with government insurance usually get a lower level of healthcare compared to patients with private insurance."

Dr. Vu also said the exclusion of older Americans and veterans for this mandate is bothersome because "Medicare covers elderly patients, who have a higher need for at-home COVID tests. Tricare is healthcare for veterans and families who put their life on the line to protect our country, and they have un

Keep in mind, this is different from the federal website COVID.tests.gov, where people can order four free COVID tests per household. For those tests, it does not matter what insurance you have.

Although people with Medicare and Tricare insurance are not yet able to take advantage of getting an insurance-covered at-home COVID tests from a pharmacy, patients can still go to a clinic and get a rapid test or a PCR test. If you're insurance does not cover a test, or you don't have access to COVID.tests.gov, you can also pay out-of-pocket for a test too.