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Medicare and Telemedicine

writtenByWritten by: Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

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reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

July 6, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine or telehealth is the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance through technological devices such as computers or smartphones. Telemedicine is a general term covering all of the ways you and your doctor use technology to communicate without being in the same room.

  • 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 Does Telemedicine Work?

Telemedicine works by a two-way conversation between a patient and a physician. Still, instead of being face to face at a doctor’s office or hospital, the interaction takes place virtually. Your doctor is in one location using a telecommunications device to deliver care while the patient is on the receiving end at a distant site. 

Smartphones, computers, and smart tablets are devices used to provide telemedicine. Telehealth interactions can include consultations, medical assessments, well visits, sick visits, prescription writing, and even follow-up appointments. 

Healthcare providers that are permitted to use telemedicine include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Physical therapists
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech-language pathologists

Medicare and Telemedicine

In the past, original Medicare and telemedicine only applied for those who lived in rural areas and were disadvantaged due to long distances between their homes and doctors’ offices or hospitals. Recently, Medicare now allows telemedicine for all types of patients, not just those living in rural areas. 

The push for telemedicine came in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the intrinsic need for telemedicine. With so many people scared to leave their homes and forced government shutdowns, the healthcare focus shifted all attention to the pandemic and those acutely infected. This left a gap in care for those with chronic illnesses, preventative care, or other acute illnesses unrelated to COVID-19. Telemedicine use has rapidly expanded as patients have been afraid to go to the doctor’s office for fear of contracting COVID-19.

In March of 2020, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) lifted restrictions on telemedicine, allowing Medicare telehealth services to provide a broader range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Telemedicine services will remain in place after the emergency period ends, and it is expected that these services will be a permanent expansion of coverage across the United States.

Medicare Coverage for Telemedicine Services

Since the start of the pandemic, CMS has added 144 telehealth services that it will cover. 

Examples of these services, which are all covered by Medicare, include:

  • Emergency department visits
  • Initial inpatient visits
  • Nursing facility visits
  • Preventative care visits
  • Discharge day management services

Does Medicare Cover Telemedicine?

Different types of Medicare affect telehealth services differently. How much a telemedicine visit costs depends on what kind of medicare you have. 

Medicare telehealth services include:

  • Office visits
  • Psychotherapy
  • Consultations
  • Certain other medical or health services provided by a doctor or other healthcare provider located elsewhere using interactive 2-way real-time audio and video technology

Here are some quick facts about each Medicare service related to telemedicine:

  • For most telehealth services, you’ll pay the same amount that you would if you got the services in person.
  • Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) cover most telemedicine services.
  • Under Medicare Part B, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for your doctor or other health care provider’s services, and the Part B deductible applies.
  • Medicare Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, may offer extra coverage, such as vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).

Medicare Telemedicine Appointments

To make a telemedicine appointment, you will need a smartphone, computer, or smart tablet with two-way real-time audio and video capabilities. 

The cost of each appointment is usually the same as if you visited the doctor face to face in an office.

Medicare telemedicine appointments work by:

  • Signing into a secure healthcare platform and talking to the doctor through this platform. 
  • Once you have selected an appointment time and chose your doctor, you sign into the telehealth platform. 
  • From there, you will see your doctor through video chat in real-time. 
  • Then the session is performed just like a regular doctor visit, complete with questions, assessments, and treatment plan discussions. 

Medicare virtual check-ins make it easy and simple to visit your doctor, get prescriptions, or perform secure consultations and well visits. Medical virtual check-ins are also referred to as “e-visits” which are defined as communications between a patient and their provider through an online patient portal. 

Telemedicine for Medicare beneficiaries are one of the few benefits that came from the pandemic. Telemedicine can provide convenient healthcare services at affordable prices.

  • 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

Medicare Telemedicine with PlushCare 

Medicare virtual doctor visits are available through PlushCare. PlushCare offers telemedicine virtual visits for those who have Medicare. These appointments are done from the comfort of your own home through a secure patient portal which is a safe platform to speak with your doctor.

Telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries offers the following without a co-payment if you have original Medicare or Medicare Advantage:

  • Virtual visits
  • Mental health counseling
  • Preventative health screening

If you have original Medicare or Medicare Advantage, make an appointment today to speak with a PlushCare doctor about your health and treatment options. A board-certified doctor is available to assist you during these times by providing effective, affordable, and efficient medical care. With PlushCare, getting a telehealth appointment is as easy as clicking here.


Read More About Medicare and Telemedicine


Sources:

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

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare telemedicine health care provider fact sheet. Accessed on May 23, 2021 from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/medicare-telemedicine-health-care-provider-fact-sheet

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Telehealth. Accessed on May 23, 2021 from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth

National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment: Workshop Summary. Accessed on June 04, 2021 at
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207141/

Kaiser Family Foundation. Opportunities and Barriers for Telemedicine in the U.S. During the COVID-19 Emergency and Beyond. Accessed on June 04, 2021 at
https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/opportunities-and-barriers-for-telemedicine-in-the-u-s-during-the-covid-19-emergency-and-beyond/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Telehealth: Delivering Care Safely During COVID-19. Accessed on June 04, 2021 at https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/telehealth/index.html

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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