Medicare, COVID-19 and Telemedicine in 2020

COVID-19 has changed how we live, especially regarding Medicare. As the highest risk group for severe complications from COVID-19, seniors are encouraged to stay home and take additional safety precautions to protect themselves. Medicare and Medicare Advantage insurers are taking steps to keep enrollees as safe as possible during these unusual times.

We know you’ve heard about the value of excellent hygiene and social distancing by now. But have you heard about Telemedicine / Telehealth for Medicare enrollees? It’s a new way for seniors with Medicare / Medicare Advantage to get the healthcare services they need, without risking a trip into a doctor’s office or hospital.

At CoverageCoach, our goal is to provide you with thoughtful and honest answers to your Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement questions. If you have questions about Medicare and telemedicine that we don’t answer here, feel free to get in touch!

Medicare Providers Care for Patients While Remaining Socially Distant

Medicare.gov says, “Due to the [COVID-19 pandemic], doctors and other health care providers can use telehealth services to treat COVID-19 (and for other medically reasonable purposes) from offices, hospitals, and places of residence {including] homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.”

“Telehealth / telemedicine” are broad terms that mean the same thing, and could apply to phone consultations, Skype or ZOOM meetings online.

  • Know that your usual coinsurance / copays and deductibles still apply for these kinds of visits.
  • Some doctors and clinics are reducing or waiving charges for telehealth services during the pandemic, but it’s at their discretion.
  • Doctors are not required by Medicare to waive a co-pay for telemedicine.

Medicare Advantage Plans and COVID-19

Think of Medicare Advantage plans as Original Medicare, plus more. Every Medicare Advantage plan will provide at least the same coverages as Original Medicare. Most include prescription drug coverage (Part D).

Depending on your specific plan, they might also include:

  • Complete coverage for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19, like chest X-rays, for instance.
  • Transportation to medical appointments.
  • Additional equipment coverage, like wheelchair ramps or shower bars.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you won’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket for COVID-19 tests. Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer more telehealth services — beyond doctor visits — as the situation unfolds. It’s also likely that Medicare will cover Coronavirus vaccines once they are available.

Will Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans Cover COVID-19 Vaccines?

Yes. However, as of mid-August 2020, there no vaccine is proven safe and effective against COVID-19 yet. 

To date, more than 140 vaccine candidates are in testing, and a few are showing real promise! Dr. Faucithe National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) director, says we might have a vaccine as early 2021. In the realm of vaccine development, that’s lightning speed!

When that time comes, know that Medicare — and therefore all Medicare Advantage plans — will cover a vaccine. Much the same as they cover an annual “flu shot” today.

Medicare and COVID-19

At CoverageCoach, we know the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for aging adults. We also know that Medicare and senior health insurance topics are complicated. If you’d like to know more about Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans and Coronavirus, get in touch! We’d love to give you a no-pressure, no-cost consultation any time.

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