In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, changes have been made to Medicare coverage to enhance access and reduced costs. Cardan Capital Partners Co-Founding Partner Marti Awad and Carol Janz Booth of Group Insurance Analysts Inc., share some tips related to the Cononavirus and your Medicare coverage. Coronavirus.gov, CDC.gov/coronavirus, USA.gov and Medicare.gov are just a few resources to tap into for information. The following provides answers to some commonly asked questions:
Does Medicare cover lab tests for COVID-19?
Yes, you pay no out-of-pocket costs. Medicare covers testing to see if you currently have COVID-19 and an order from a treating physician is no longer required. You can get the test from a lab, pharmacy, doctor or hospital. The specimen may be collected from a home health nurse, lab technician or an appropriately-trained medical assistant at different sites, including some “parking lot” testing sites. Some tests for related respiratory conditions to aid in the diagnosis of COVID-19 may be done together with the COVID-19 test and are also covered at no charge.
Does Medicare cover COVID-19 antibody tests?
Yes 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 FDA-authorized antibody tests (also known as serology tests). These tests may be used to determine if you were previously infected with COVID-19 and developed antibodies as a result. The presence of antibodies may indicate that you are not at immediate risk of COVID-19 reinfection.
Can my Medicare Advantage Plan charge copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance for clinical lab test to detect or diagnose COVID-19?
Does Medicare cover all medically necessary hospitalizations if you are diagnosed with COVID-19?
Yes. This also includes coverage for continued hospitalization when you might otherwise be discharged but need to remain under quarantine. Hospital deductibles, copays and coinsurance still apply.
Note: the Democrat proposed bill, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, has some Medicare provisions as well including the elimination of out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment under Medicare Parts A & B.
What about COVID-19 vaccine coverage?
Yes, it will be covered when a vaccine becomes available.
What is a contact tracer and when would they call me?
If you were possibly exposed to someone with COVID-19, you may be contacted by phone by a public health worker or contact tracer. You will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days (staying home, monitoring your health and maintaining social distancing from others at all times). All information you share with a contact tracer is confidential. Legitimate contact tracers will NEVER ask for your Medicare number or financial information.
I have heard about telehealth visits? What are they and are they covered?
To reduce exposure to COVID-19 to you and others, Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services by increasing access from more places (like your home) using a wider range of communication tools (like smartphones) to interact with healthcare providers such as doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, and therapists.
These “virtual check-in” visits are without an office copayment if you have original Medicare. These “virtual visits” require verbal consent and documentation by your doctor. You must initiate these types of communications. If you do not have access to audio-visual technology, Medicare is allowing people to use audio-only phones.
ALERT! Scammers are using the coronavirus pandemic to take advantage of people while they’re distracted. Guard your Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summaries for errors, and never give your Medicare number or other confidential information if someone calls you on the phone.
For further detailed information and resources: Go to the Medicare home page, www.medicare.gov, look for “See how Medicare is responding to the Coronavirus “ and click on the learn more button.
The content contained in this article is meant for educational purposes and is not an endorsement of Group Insurance Analysts Inc. Information presented is not meant to be a complete discussion of Medicare or its benefits. All expressions of opinion are as of its publishing date and are subject to change.