March Medicare Must-Knows

March Medicare Must-Knows

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.

Medicare Will Cover Coronavirus Testing

Coronavirus has been dominating headlines across the country this month, and our news is no exception! Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is the virus that has caused major concern across the globe, sparking huge drops in the stock market and mass cancellations of travel and large public gatherings. This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that the test for COVID-19 as an “essential health benefit,” which means Medicare and Medicaid will cover the cost of the test for beneficiaries who are suspected to carry the virus. All tests must be ordered through a doctor, so you cannot order the test directly as an individual. With the increasing demand for testing, the CDC permitted many private labs to run the tests, but it comes at a cost. As a healthy reminder: the best prevention of illness is to practice good hygiene, like proper handwashing, and remain home if you feel ill to prevent the spread of illness to others. 

New Legislation Allows Medicare Telemedicine Options

The Trump Administration signed a new $8.3M bipartisan coronavirus-relief bill earlier this month. This legislation permits, among other things, the expansion of Medicare-covered telemedicine to areas considered “outbreak areas,” where vulnerable citizens, particularly senior citizens, might be at risk. Currently, telemedicine provided to Medicare beneficiaries is restricted to primarily rural areas where access to specialists requires long trips or is particularly limited. The new legislation waives those requirements and instead allows seniors to book a telemedicine appointment to eliminate the need to travel to a doctor’s office for an initial consultation. It’s worth noting that COVID-19 tests cannot be performed online and, if your doctor suspects you may indeed have the virus, you will need to go in person for the test. The legislation also includes certain requirements to protect seniors from scams. Telehealth visits are restricted to those situations in which a doctor has an established, ongoing relationship with the patient, and all telehealth visits must take place through a two-way interactive video and voice link (like Skype), which means patients must have devices compatible with this technology. 

Is Coronavirus Covered? Must-Know Tips About Medical Care While Traveling

If travel is on your calendar in the coming weeks or months, you may be wondering how to move forward with your travel and vacation plans. While it’s true that coronavirus is causing some travel cancellations, there are still options to ensure you can receive medical care while abroad if you choose to vacation or travel as planned. In summary, it’s still very possible for you to find travel insurance plans that provide coverage. You have the choice of finding medical-only coverage and comprehensive coverage options for travel insurance, and both types of travel insurance plans will typically cover emergency medical and dental care as well as medical evacuation back to the United States if needed. If you are concerned specifically about coverage for coronavirus, it’s recommended that you call the travel insurance provider to ensure that this will be covered. A spokesperson for noted that the demand for travel insurance, which has increased in recent weeks, does not impact the policy costs. 

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