Medicare and Telehealth – What You Need to Know
In a White House press conference on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Medicare administrator Seema Verma announced that Medicare will immediately expand coverage for telemedicine nationwide to help seniors with health problems stay home to avoid the coronavirus.
The goal is to give seniors access to healthcare while reducing their exposure to COVID-19 using virtual doctor appointments.
So, what is telehealth, and how does it work with Medicare? Let’s talk about it.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth (also called telemedicine) is the use of technology to have a phone or video appointment with a doctor. Many conditions can be diagnosed and treated without seeing a doctor in person. A telehealth doctor can also electronically send a prescription to your pharmacy.
With telemedicine, you can have a doctors appointment from the safety and convenience of your home. This helps reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 from going into the doctor’s office.
Medicare and Telehealth
Previously, Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covered certain telehealth services like office visits, psychotherapy, consultations, and other medical or health services only in rural areas from one of the following places:
- A doctor’s office
- A hospital
- A critical access hospital (CAH)
- A rural health clinic
- A federally qualified health center
- A hospital-based dialysis facility
- A skilled nursing facility
- A community mental health center
As of March 6, 2020, because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency, doctors and other Medicare-approved healthcare providers can use telehealth services to treat COVID-19 and certain other medical conditions from offices, hospitals, and places of residence (like homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities).
Medicare will pay for these services if patients have seen the healthcare provider or another healthcare provider in the same practice. Coinsurance and deductibles may apply.
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you won’t have out-of-pocket costs (called cost-sharing) for COVID-19 tests.
That means you may be able to have a telehealth appointment with your regular doctor rather than being forced to go into the office.
When Should You Use Telehealth?
In addition to using telehealth during this global pandemic to avoid exposure to COVID-19, you can see a virtual doctor for:
PlushCare and COVID-19
PlushCare is a leading digital healthcare provider and we are seeing an increase in appointments as people look for information and treatment for COVID-19.
While there is no cure yet for COVID-19, our licensed doctors can answer any questions you may have, assess your risk level and your symptoms, recommend over-the-counter-medications and electronically send prescriptions, for non controlled substances, to your local pharmacy.
Read: COVID-19 Resource Center
More on COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
Are you worried you might have been exposed to COVID-19? Here are the symptoms:
Shortness of breath
If you’re experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are to stay home until you’ve gone 3 days without a fever (without the help of medication to bring your temperature down) AND your other symptoms have improved AND it’s been at least 7 days since your symptoms first started.
If your symptoms are severe, call your doctor before heading to the emergency room. Your city may be referring all COVID-19 patients to certain locations, or there may be a certain protocol you should follow when you arrive.
Should I Avoid Taking Ibuprofen for Coronavirus?
Despite an announcement from France’s Ministry of Health saying that ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may worsen COVID-19 SYMPTOMS, the World Health Organization (WHO) does NOT recommend against taking NSAIDs.
How PlushCare Can Help
If you need to talk to a doctor, but don’t want to (or can’t) leave your home, you can make an appointment with one of our licensed doctors by calling (888) 839-2459 or clicking here.
You can have a phone or video appointment with one of our trusted doctors for a wide variety of issues and even get prescriptions sent to your local pharmacy.
Don’t let your concerns about COVID-19 get in the way of seeking regular medical care.
Read More About COVID-19 and Telehealth
Medicare.gov. Telehealth. Accessed on March 19, 2020 at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth
AP. To keep seniors safe at home, Medicare expands telemedicine. Accessed on March 19, 2020 at https://apnews.com/58e118636f3e39c53370131561127a54
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Symptoms. Accessed on March 19, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
NPR. Concerned About Taking Ibuprofen For Coronavirus Symptoms? Here’s What Experts Say. Accessed on March 19, 2020 at https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/18/818026613/advice-from-france-to-avoid-ibuprofen-for-covid-19-leaves-experts-baffled
WorldOMeter. COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak. Accessed on March 19, 2020 at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/