RetireMEDiQ strives to keep individuals informed about the latest Medicare news. Each month, we recap the top information consumers need to know about recent developments in the Medicare industry and how it may affect you.
Expanded Telehealth Services to be Continued
In response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in June announced its plans to expand telehealth services provided under Medicare Advantage plans. CMS issued the guidance in an effort to increase access to telehealth, expand the types of supplemental benefits available for patients with chronic diseases, provide support for more care options in rural communities, and expand access to patients battling end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Now, it looks like these popular telehealth service options will continue beyond the near-term and current COVID-19 landscape. In a press conference, CMS administrator Seema Verma said she “can’t imagine going back” to more restricted telehealth services. Verma’s comments were in support of continuing telemedicine benefits and services to beneficiaries after the pandemic is more sufficiently controlled.
Medicare Advantage Plans Gain Popularity & Government Support
By 2029, nearly 47 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans–or at least that’s what the Congressional Budget Officepredicts. MA plans have increased in popularity in recent years, and the growth makes sense: MA plans offer all of the benefits of Original Medicare and also include additional benefits and coverage, and most MA plans (90 percent) also include prescription drug coverage (referred to as Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans or MAPDs). Nearly one-third of all seniors opt to purchase a MA plan over other plans available. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has “taken several actions over the last two years to protect and strengthen the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs, driving competition and lowering costs.” Those actions, which can been seen in detail on the CMS website, enable insurance companies to offer more benefits under their plans while also reducing the out-of-pocket prices for seniors. In particular, the government is offering taxpayer subsidies to encourage participation in Medicare Advantage plans. According to CMS, taxpayers have saved nearly $6 billion via lower premium subsidies.
Beware of Medicare Scammers Selling Antibody Tests
The coronavirus pandemic has created a surge in fraudulent and scam activities in recent months. RetireMEDiQ covered initial concerns earlier this year, and we continue to monitor the market for reports of additional scams and Medicare fraud trends. In the past month, Medicare beneficiaries have become a target for scammers who pretend to sell COVID-19 antibody tests. The New York Times reported that “the F.B.I. has issued a warning about scammers who advertise fraudulent COVID-19 antibody tests as a way to obtain personal information that can be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud.” Unfortunately, older adults are often targeted for scams related to Medicare benefits, so be sure to be extra diligent during this time of confusion and increased medical care awareness. Read up on RetireMEDiQ’s tips on how to identify and protect yourself from coronavirus-related Medicare scams.
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