Medicare: What is Covered in Relation to the Coronavirus

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As the U.S. prepares for the spread of the Coronavirus, people on Medicare remain the nation’s most vulnerable. “Medicare encompasses people over the age of 65 and people on disability,” said Vincent Cortazar, Managing Partner of Medigap Life, a company that specializes in Medicare products. “Unfortunately, they are most at risk right now. We are closely monitoring the updates from the CDC.”

The CDC has released the following statement on its website, “older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. Older people may be twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. This means that most people with Medicare are at higher risk.”

For Medicare recipients, Medicare is now covering the cost of the Coronavirus test. According to Medicare.gov, “Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers a test to see if you have coronavirus (officially called 2019-novel coronavirus or COVID-19). This test is covered when your doctor or other health care provider orders it, if you got the test on or after February 4, 2020.”

Some important information that the agents at Medigap Life are quoting for their customers in regards to Medicare customers includes, “Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine, “said Denise Quinn, one of the licensed agents at Medigap Life.

Although there is not a vaccine for the Coronavirus, Medicare does have plans to cover one when it becomes available. “At this time, there’s no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D),“ said Brett Jaffy, another Licensed Agent. 

Medicare also covers telemedicine benefits for recipients. According to Medicare.gov, “Medicare covers “virtual check-ins” so you can connect with your doctor by phone or video, or even an online patient portal, to see whether you need to come in for a visit. If you’re concerned about illness and are potentially contagious, this offers you an easy way to remain at home and avoid exposure to others.”

Listed on the Medicare web site, some conditions of the service through Medicare include: 

  • You need to consent verbally to using virtual check-ins and your doctor must document that consent in your medical record before you use this service. You pay your usual Medicare coinsurance and deductible for these services.
  • Medicare also pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals without going to the doctor’s office. Like the virtual check-ins, you must initiate these individual communications.
  • If you live in a rural area, you may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. The law requires that these visits take place at specified sites of service, known as telehealth originating sites, and get services using a real-time audio and video communication system at the site to communicate with a remotely located doctor or certain other types of practitioners. Medicare pays for many medical visits through this telehealth benefit.

Recipients on Medicare Advantage plans also have benefits, “Medicare Advantage plans have access to the same benefits. Medicare allows them to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. A plan can even offer additional telemedicine benefits that are beyond the basic coverage provided in original Medicare. We recommend that people call us so we can check your plan and find out what it does and doesn’t cover,” Cortazar said. “Now is the time to be fully prepared.”

For more information, Medigap Life can be contacted at (855) 997-7001. Their hours of operation are M-F 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.