There are many resources available to Medicare recipients during the COVID-19 Pandemic. To help our customers navigate safely during this time, we put together a list of useful Medicare resources intended to help you utilize your Medicare coverage during social distancing. We know that it is not always possible to avoid face-to-face interactions when it comes to healthcare, but Medicare has several resources in place to limit your amount of exposure. Below is a list of the various resources available to many Medicare recipients.
Telehealth/ Tele Mental Health
Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to the current Public Health Emergency. These services expand the current telehealth covered services, to help you have access from more places (including your home), with a wider range of communication tools (including smartphones), to interact with a range of providers (like doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists). During this time, you will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings without a copayment if you have Original Medicare. This will help ensure you are able to visit with your doctor from your home, without having to go to a doctor’s office or hospital, which puts you and others at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Mail-order Prescription Drugs
All Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have access to mail-order prescription services. That means you can order up to three months of your prescription drugs at a time and they’ll be delivered right to your house. This is a great option for people who take prescriptions on a regular basis.
Extra benefits – Over the Counter Catalogs
Many Medicare Advantage Plans have extra benefits called “Over-the-counter” pharmacy benefits. This gives Medicare patients a set amount of money to buy specific over the counter items, such as aspirin, vitamins, etc. Many of these can be ordered via an online catalog with the pharmacy and delivered directly to your door so you can stock up on over the counter items without heading to the pharmacy.
Other ways Medicare is helping
Every day, Medicare is responsible for developing and enforcing the essential health and safety requirements that health care providers must meet. When you go to a healthcare provider, you expect a certain standard of care, and we work to make sure you get it. That includes taking additional steps in response to coronavirus:
- Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
- Medicare covers FDA-authorized COVID-19 antibody (or “serology”) tests if you were diagnosed with a known current or known prior COVID-19 infection or suspected current or suspected past COVID-19 infection.
- 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. You’ll still pay for any hospital deductibles, copays, or coinsurances that apply.
- Medicare Advantage Plans and Prescription Drug Plans may waive or relax prior authorization requirements.
- Taking aggressive actions and exercising regulatory flexibilities to help healthcare providers and Medicare health plans.
- As part of an effort to address the urgent need to increase capacity to care for patients, hospitals can now provide hospital services in other healthcare facilities and sites that aren’t currently considered part of a healthcare facility. This includes off-site screenings. Medicare covers medically necessary care in these facilities and sites.
- Waiving certain requirements for skilled nursing facility care.
- Establishing new codes to allow providers to correctly bill for services related to diagnosis and treatment of the illness.
- Instructing our national network of State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations to focus all their efforts on infection prevention and other cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes and hospitals.
- Instructing nursing homes and hospitals to review their infection control procedures, which they’re required to maintain at all times.
- Issuing important guidance answering questions that nursing homes may have with respect to addressing cases of COVID-19.
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