What Over-the-Counter Medicines Does Medicare Cover?


Quick Answer

Original Medicare does not provide coverage for most over-the-counter items, including medications, notes Medicare.gov. Though Medicare Part B provides limited coverage for certain prescription drugs, it also covers a limited number of over-the-counter supplies, such as some diabetic test supplies like blood sugar monitoring devices and blood glucose testing strips.

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Full Answer

Medicare Part D, which provides optional prescription drug coverage, does not cover over-the-counter medications that are available without a prescription, according to My Medicare Matters. Part D does not cover over-the-counter drugs even if they are prescribed by the beneficiary's health care provider, notes the Center for Medicare Advocacy. However, individual Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans may offer over-the-counter medication coverage to beneficiaries as a supplemental benefit through certain enhanced plans.

Though regulated by the federal Medicare program, Part D is privatized and only available through commercial insurance carriers, explains the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Each Prescription Drug Plan's formulary of covered drugs must provide coverage for certain medications, but the specific items covered varies by the insurance plan the beneficiary purchases. Participation in Part D is optional. Part D participants typically must pay a monthly premium as well as co-pays and deductibles for eligible medications purchased through the plan.

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