What will Medicare cover?
On April 2, 2020, Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced several important things you need to know about how Medicare will cover COVID-19 related health services.
She affirms that being informed about your Medicare coverage is extremely important to her and CMS.
Medicare has added telehealth services to the list of items it will cover. This will allow you to receive healthcare services from medical professionals without having to physically be present or travel to the doctor’s office. It also will help nurses and doctors stay safe while still having the ability to diagnose and treat their patients.
If your licensed healthcare professional orders a COVID-19 test for you, Medicare will cover all the costs of that test. You will not be responsible for any co-pay or co-insurance, no matter what Medicare plan you are currently enrolled in. This includes Original Medicare, Medicare Supplements, and Medicare Advantage plans. In addition, once a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed and is made available, your Medicare plan will cover the full cost of that vaccine.
If you are hospitalized due to COVID-19, or even if you were on the verge of being discharged, but were required to stay extra days as a result of being diagnosed with COVID-19, Medicare will cover all medically necessary hospitalizations. Medicare will also cover extra days you may be required to stay due to being under quarantine.
More about Telehealth
According to CMS, telehealth services may be offered by doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers. You can participate in telehealth services in your home, as well as in any healthcare facility. For example, you can be in a nursing home, and participate in telehealth services, and Medicare will cover those costs.
Telehealth activities may include regular office visits, mental health counseling and even preventative services and screenings for cancer. Participating in telehealth services may help our nation’s healthcare system by freeing up hospital emergency rooms and doctors to deal with the most urgent COVID-19 cases.
In addition, it’s comforting to know that during this pandemic, Medicare will pay for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person services. This will encourage doctors and medical professionals to reserve their offices to treat those who may need the priority of in-person care.
Unfortunately, times like this brings out the worst in scammers across the world. Scammers may use this COVID-19 national emergency to take advantage of you since we’re all distracted. Remember to guard your Medicare card like a Social Security or credit card. Check your claims summaries for mistakes, and if someone calls you and asks for your Medicare card information, never give it to them.
Other ways Medicare is helping
Medicare does an excellent job at developing and enforcing the essential health and safety requirements that doctors, nurses and hospitals must meet. When you utilize services at a healthcare facility, you expect a high standard of care. Medicare ensures that the level of care is the best it can be. Here are some additional steps that Medicare is taking in response to
- Aggressive actions are being taken to allow for regulatory flexibilities forhealthcare professionals and Medicare health plans.
- Hospitals can now provide services in other health-related facilities and sites. This includes off-site screenings and caring for patients.
- Skilled nursing facility care requirements are being waived.
- New billing codes have been created to allow for healthcare professionals to bill correctly for services related to COVID-19.
- Providing instruction to State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations to focus their efforts on infection prevention in nursing homes.
- Providing instruction to nursing homes and hospitals to review their infection control procedures and to maintain them always.
- Issuing important guidance answering questions presented by nursing homes related to COVID-19.
Slow the spread
All of us can do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. We need to continue to avoid social gatherings, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home if your job allows, avoid bars, restaurants and food courts – use pick-up and delivery options, and avoid travel, shopping and social visits.
In addition, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public. Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, and avoid touching your face, nose and eyes. Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs and practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
All of us are very concerned about this COVID-19 pandemic and the way it spreads.
It can pose a huge threat to our aging population and those with medical conditions.
We will keep you posted on how Medicare will cover the costs associated with this as we receive more information.