The coronavirus has affected thousands of people across the world and has resulted in a pandemic. There is a demographic the coronavirus has targeted – senior citizens and people with underlying health conditions. Medicare has recognized this and has made changes to ensure that you will have adequate healthcare coverage for you in these pressing times. Let’s first discuss what the coronavirus is.
What is coronavirus?
The coronavirus is a respiratory virus that can spread from person to person. Researchers and studies have shown that the coronavirus easily spreads through respiratory droplets released into the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. However, the droplets can only travel a few feet.
The coronavirus symptoms are high fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, sore throat, loss of taste and smell, and body aches. In rare cases, coronavirus can lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure, and death. However, the recovery rate for the virus is between 97-99.75%, according to WebMD.
How Medicare covers coronavirus
Medicare will cover the COVID-19 swab and serology test at 100% under Medicare Part B;You will not have to pay the Part B deductible or coinsurance for the test or doctor visit. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you will not be required to pay any co-payments, deductibles, or coinsurance for a clinical lab coronavirus test.
Medicare Part B will help cover emergency ambulance transportation, emergency room visits, and physician visits. Part B also covers many vaccinations, such as the influenza vaccination. However, if a coronavirus vaccine becomes released to the public, the vaccine would be covered under Medicare Part D, not Medicare Part B.
If you were to become seriously ill from the virus, Medicare would cover your hospitalization, whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. However, if you have Original Medicare, you will still be responsible for the Part A deductible, which is $1,408 in 2020. Now, if you must quarantine inside the hospital and are no longer an inpatient, you will not be required to pay an additional deductible for your continued stay.
After your hospital stay, you may be required to stay at a skilled nursing facility (SNF). If so, Medicare will provide coverage for the first 20 days of your stay. If your stay exceeds 20 days, your co-payments for days 21-100 will be $176/per day in 2020. (If you have a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan, it will help cover these costs.)
Telemedicine and coronavirus
Telemedicine provides online communication between a healthcare provider and a patient. Telemedicine has become a massive part of the healthcare world, to allow you and beneficiaries to receive health care visits inside your home.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine was only available in rural areas. Now, you can partake in telemedicine in any geographic region, and receive coverage by Medicare. With that said, your telemedicine appointment does not have to be coronavirus related for Medicare to cover your visit. You can receive regular doctor visits, preventative health screenings, and mental health counseling via telemedicine and receive Medicare coverage.
Telemedicine services are listed under Medicare Part B. The Part B deductible and coinsurance will apply to your visit. However, many healthcare providers are waiving or reducing the payment of your telemedicine appointment.
Since seniors are at higher risk of this virus, you will want to take all the precautions to ensure you stay safe and healthy during the pandemic. Washing your hands with warm, soapy water, staying six feet apart from others, and wearing a mask is highly recommended during this time. If you begin to feel ill with any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, call your healthcare physician, and immediately quarantine yourself from others until told otherwise.