Medicare to Cover Testing for the Coronavirus

Coronavirus test
Photo by SamaraHeisz5 / Shutterstock.com

Here is a rare bit of good news for older Americans worried about contracting COVID-19 — the official name for what is more commonly referred to as “the coronavirus.” If you have Medicare Part B, it will cover the cost of testing for the disease so long as a few conditions are met.

Patients usually pay nothing for covered diagnostic lab tests, the Medicare program said in an announcement Wednesday.

Medicare, the federal health insurance program that primarily serves people age 65 and older, will cover the coronavirus test if:

  • Your health care provider orders the test.
  • You got it on or after Feb. 4.
  • Your health care provider waits until after April 1 to submit an insurance claim for it.

The Medicare program also has created a standardized insurance billing code specifically for the coronavirus testing, for health care providers to use when submitting insurance claims for the test.

Medicare explains:

“This code will allow those labs conducting the tests to bill for the specific test instead of using an unspecified code, which means better tracking of the public health response for this particular strain of the coronavirus to help protect people from the spread of this infectious disease.”

In recent days, anger has risen with the Trump administration and the wider federal government over what appears to be a lack of available testing kits in the U.S.

The government now says it is working hard to address those concerns, the Associated Press reports.

Dr. Stephen Hahn, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says the FDA has teamed up with a private company to get up to 2,500 test kits to labs this week. Each kit can be used for 500 tests, so the total would provide about 1.25 million tests.

In addition, many experts and others have criticized the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for initially restricting coronavirus testing mostly to people who had been hospitalized.

On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence, whom President Donald Trump named to lead the U.S. coronavirus response, said any American can be tested for the virus so long as his or her doctor orders such a test.

As of this morning, there were 80 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., according to the CDC. Nine people have died as a result, and cases of the virus have been reported in 13 states.

Worldwide, there have been more than 90,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 3,100 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

For most people, coronavirus infection is likely to produce mild symptoms. They can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Matthew Frieman, a virologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a Washington Post report last month:

“This looks to be a bad, heightened cold — I think that’s a rational way of thinking about it. Not to diminish its importance — it’s in the middle between SARS and the common cold.”

Symptoms typically begin two days to two weeks after you have been infected.

COVID-19 primarily is spread from person to person, usually when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes and you breathe in the respiratory droplets. Folks with minor symptoms are urged to stay home while sick to avoid exposing anyone else, whose infection might be much more severe.

In a minority of patients — particularly the elderly and those with compromised immune systems — coronavirus infection can be deadly. To date, there is no vaccine to fight off the illness.

Are you worried about the spread of COVID-19? Sound off in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying
7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying

Saving money doesn’t always mean drudgery and sacrifice. These tools make it easy — sometimes even fun.

It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things
It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things

Sometimes, the difference in quality makes it worthwhile to open your wallet a little wider.

12 Ways to Never Pay Full Price for Anything
12 Ways to Never Pay Full Price for Anything

Stop paying retail prices. Here are plenty of ways around that.

5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail
5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail

Here’s how to keep unwanted mail from clogging your mailbox and trash can.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles
The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles

One automaker takes half the spots on a list of the longest-lasting vehicles.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

Will Stimulus Checks Increase Your Social Security Taxes?
Will Stimulus Checks Increase Your Social Security Taxes?

Could all those “free” checks prove costly down the road?

11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic
11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic

Many goods we take for granted have become tough to find in 2021.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.