June 2023 Fraud Fact

Jun 29, 2023

Beware of unsolicited ‘free’ over-the-counter COVID tests

The Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) wants you to know that over-the-counter COVID-19 tests are not covered automatically by Medicare anymore. Under the recently-expired public health emergency, beneficiaries were able get over-the-counter tests with no out-of-pocket costs. Not anymore! That public health emergency ended May 11.

You can still get over-the-counter tests, but there may be out-of-pocket costs. As you might expect, this change has brought out scammers. Some consumers have reported receiving the OTC tests in their mailboxes, without asking for them. If this happens to you, contact the Missouri (SMP) to report it. It may be a scam. However, if you are enrolled in Medicare Part B, you will continue to have coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for appropriate lab-based COVID-19 tests. They must be ordered by a provider. These could occur at a drive-through PCR and antigen testing center or in a provider’s office.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have more access to OTC tests, depending on your benefits. Check with your plan. Report any phone calls, emails, text messages, or other communications trying to get you to provide your personal or Medicare information. If you are a Medicare beneficiary and think you need a COVID test, call your provider to get the test ordered or to seek advice. If you buy an OTC
test, remember it may not be covered. If you have OTC tests on hand, hang onto them. If the date is past their expiration, remember that expiration dates on some tests have been extended.
Check the www.fda.gov website for more information.


This fraud prevention information is brought to you by Missouri SMP. Our mission is to empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to prevent, detect and report healthcare fraud, errors, and abuse. Get more information on our website at https://www.missourismp.org. Call (888) 515-6565 to report suspected Medicare or Medicaid fraud, errors, or abuse.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90MPPG0040, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.