COVID-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus that has infected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the situation as a pandemic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO are actively monitoring the outbreak. This global pandemic might have you wondering if your current Medicare coverage might be impacted. From telehealth to coronavirus testing to Medicare Advantage plans, let SelectQuote help you navigate your Medicare benefits during this trying time.
Senior Citizens and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious cases of COVID-19. That being said, the testing and treatment of the coronavirus should generally be covered by Medicare.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has officially announced a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals impacted by COVID-19 who were unable to, and did not make an election during another valid election period. This SEP can be used until June 30, 2020 for qualifying individuals. Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to COVID-19, which should help you access healthcare professionals from the comfort of your own home. This will help ensure you’re able to visit with your doctor without having to go to their office or the hospital, putting yourself and others at risk of exposure to the virus.
How to Reduce your Risk of Contracting Coronavirus
COVID-19 is transmitted by droplets generated when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. To protect yourself and others, wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes, and to the extent possible, avoid touching surfaces in public places such as elevator buttons, door handles and handrails.
It’s encouraged to stay home and away from crowds, as it’s important to practice social distancing, which includes deliberately increasing the physical space between yourself and others. Staying at least six feet away may help lessen your chances of contracting COVID-19.
Medicare Coverage and Coronavirus Tests
According to Medicare.gov, Medicare Part B covers coronavirus testing. Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations, including if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19. At this time, there’s no vaccine for coronavirus, but if one becomes available, it should be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug plans.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan in place of Basic Medicare (Parts A & B), you also have access to the above benefits in regard to COVID-19. Medicare Advantage plans also offer expanded benefits that make managing difficult times easier, such as waiving charges for home delivery of prescription medications and mail-order solutions.
Steps to take if You are Showing Symptoms
Common signs of COVID-19 include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and sometimes, death. The virus is transmitted by droplets generated when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, so it’s important to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, nose and eyes, and if you’re able to stay home and away from crowds, it’s encouraged to do so.
In the event you’re feeling under the weather or experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms, first consult with your doctor via phone or a telehealth appointment. Your physician should be able to tell you which healthcare facility is best suited to help if in-person care is needed. This will protect both you and others from the spread of the coronavirus and other potential infections. Above all, it’s crucial to follow the directions of your local health authorities.
Medicare Coverage and Using Telehealth Services
Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to COVID-19, which will help you access healthcare professionals from the comfort of your own home. This will ensure you’re able to visit with your doctor without having to go to their office or the hospital, putting yourself and others at risk of exposure to the virus. During this time, you’ll be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (to take place of common office visits), mental health counseling and preventative screenings.
Medicare should pay for “virtual check-ins,” which are considered brief, virtual consultations with your primary doctor or certain practitioners. You’ll need verbal consent to use virtual check-ins with your doctor, who should also document the consent in your medical records prior to using the service. You’ll pay your usual Medicare coinsurance and deductible for these virtual visits.
Medicare Scams during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of the fear currently surrounding COVID-19. To help avoid Medicare and coronavirus scams, keep in mind the following:
- To avoid over-the-phone scams, simply hang up on robocalls related to coronavirus. Additionally, refrain from replying to texts or emails from sources you’re unfamiliar with.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There are currently no vaccines, pills or other prescription products available to treat or cure COVID-19.
- Fact check any information surrounding Medicare and the coronavirus. Medicare.gov, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites should have the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the virus.
FAQs about Medicare Insurance and Coronavirus
Who is most at risk for the coronavirus disease?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions seem to be at higher risk for more serious cases of coronavirus.
What should you do if you think you have the 2019 novel coronavirus?
If you think you are sick, consult with your doctor by phone or telehealth visit to better gauge the symptoms you’re experiencing are (or aren’t) related to COVID-19. Your physician should be able to direct you to a healthcare facility if in-person care is needed.
Does Medicare cover the coronavirus test?
According to Medicare.gov, Medicare does cover testing for COVID-19.
Does Medicare cover coronavirus treatment?
Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations, which 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.
Is there a coronavirus vaccine?
Currently, there is not a vaccine for coronavirus, but according to Medicare.gov, if one becomes available, it will be covered by Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D).
Find Reassurance with SelectQuote
Making sure you have the health coverage you need can provide peace of mind at times like this. At SelectQuote, we can help ensure you have the Medicare benefits you deserve. The service is free and there’s no obligation to enroll.