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COVID-19 | Medicare and Telehealth – What You Need to Know

writtenByWritten by: Leah McCabe
Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Read more posts by this author.
reviewBy Reviewed by: Leann Poston, M.D.
Reviewer

Leann Poston, M.D.

Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.

May 26, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

*NOTE:  Due to a lack of scientific data at this time, PlushCare physicians do not prescribe ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, or azithromycin/other antibiotics to treat COVID-19.

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 would immediately expand coverage for Medicare telehealth services 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. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

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 doctor’s 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, including 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

Does Medicare Cover Telehealth?

Yes, Medicare covers telehealth services. On March 6, 2020, because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency, Medicare expanded coverage to include telehealth services from doctors and other Medicare-approved providers.

Doctors and other Medicare-approved healthcare providers can now use telehealth services to treat COVID-19 and certain other medical conditions from offices, hospitals, and places of residence (such as homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities). Medicare telehealth will cover 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 will not 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. 

What Is a Medicare Telehealth Appointment?

Medicare telehealth appointments can range from “office” visits and consultations to psychotherapy and other medical services provided by a licensed healthcare provider. 

During a telehealth appointment, you’ll communicate with your doctor using two-way real-time audio and/or video technology over a HIPAA-compliant platform. In most cases, healthcare providers offer both video and phone appointment options, so you can choose whichever you feel more comfortable with.


Read: COVID-19 and the Uninsured and Working Class


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 symptoms, recommend over-the-counter medications, and electronically send prescriptions for non-controlled substances to your local pharmacy.

Depending on your state’s regulations, our doctors can also provide you with a COVID-19 vaccine doctor’s note if you have a pre-existing condition.


Read: COVID-19 At-Home Testing


More on COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

Are you worried you might have been exposed to COVID-19? Here are the most common symptoms:

Fever

Cough

Shortness of breath


If you’re experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting tested for COVID-19 and staying away from others until you’ve received your test results. “Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care,” according to the CDC. “Do not leave your home, except to get medical care.”

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?

No, you do not need to avoid taking ibuprofen for COVID-19 symptoms.

Despite an announcement from France’s Ministry of Health saying that ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may worsen COVID-19 symptoms, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend against taking NSAIDs. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

How PlushCare Can Help

If you need to talk to a doctor but prefer not to leave your home, you can make an appointment with one of our licensed doctors by calling 1-888-839-2459 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


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Medicare.gov. Telehealth. Accessed on March 19, 2020 at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Symptoms. Accessed on March 19, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

World Health Organization. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in patients with COVID-19. Accessed on May 21, 2020 at https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/the-use-of-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs-(nsaids)-in-patients-with-covid-19

AP. To keep seniors safe at home, Medicare expands telemedicine. Accessed on March 19, 2020 at https://apnews.com/58e118636f3e39c53370131561127a54

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/

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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