What Are Some Everyday Over-the-Counter Items Covered by Medicare?


Quick Answer

Original Medicare does not cover most over-the-counter items, but Medicare Part B covers some diabetic test supplies, such as blood glucose testing strips, according to Medicare.gov. Medicare Advantage plans may offer enrollees a supplemental over-the-counter benefit, notes Fred Gebhart for Drug Topics.

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What Are Some Everyday Over-the-Counter Items Covered by Medicare?
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Full Answer

Under Medicare Part B, a limited number of prescriptions and supplies are covered, explains pharmacist Jason Poquette for The Honest Apothecary. Commonly covered supplies include diabetic testing supplies. These supplies, which are available for purchase without a prescription, include blood glucose meters, blood sugar testing strips and lancets for drawing blood.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are an optional benefit, states Medicare.gov. Each prescription drug plan develops its own Medicare-approved formulary, which must include certain prescription drugs. Under Medicare regulations, these plans can exclude certain drugs from coverage, says the National Council on Aging. However, plans have the option of providing enhanced alternative drug coverage for these typically excluded drugs, which include over-the-counter drugs that do not require a prescription and medications that treat cough and cold symptoms.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans may place restrictions on coverage, according to the National Council on Aging. One common restriction is step therapy, which requires a member to use the simplest and least expensive option before progressing to a more expensive alternative. If the plan requires a person to start with an over-the-counter medication, then the plan must provide this over-the-counter drug at no cost.

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