Free at-home COVID-19 tests may be available to military beneficiaries through military and hospital clinics “in the coming weeks,” a move in line with recent requests from MOAA and Congress to expand TRICARE coverage for such test kits.
Beneficiaries are eligible for up to eight tests per month as supplies permit, according to a Feb. 24 DoD news release. Clinic webpages and social media feeds will include information on upcoming test distribution.
Along with engaging TRICARE leadership on the possibility of at-home test coverage, MOAA also worked with the TRICARE for Kids Coalition and the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the topic.
TRICARE still does not cover the at-home kits unless the test is ordered by a TRICARE-authorized provider. Beneficiaries may have other avenues available to find free kits if their local clinic does not offer them – TRICARE For Life beneficiaries can secure eight free kits per month starting in early spring via Medicare, for instance, and every U.S. home can order four free at-home kits via COVIDTests.gov.
All health insurance and group health plans must cover the at-home kits per a federal requirement. Because TRICARE is a health care plan, not insurance, it does not fall under the mandate. TRICARE is not authorized to cover the at-home tests, officials say; while MOAA applauds the effort to make these tests available for free via military clinics, a better solution would be to allow TRICARE coverage for the tests without requiring prior medical authorization, putting beneficiaries on a level playing field with those under private insurance plans.
Have More Questions About Your Health Care Benefit?
MOAA's TRICARE Guide answers some commonly asked questions.