The coronavirus pandemic has required many individuals who require necessary healthcare services to shelter at home. Luckily, essential medical services are now accessible through telecommunication devices with the use of telemedicine. The White House administration released emergency legislation extending the use of telemedicine services to Medicare recipients in March 2020, in response to the increasing threat of Coronavirus. During a public health crisis, these expanded programs enable people to meet necessary healthcare needs. So, exactly what does telemedicine cover for Medicare, and how does it apply to you? To find out the answer to those questions and more, keep reading.
There are two Medicare plans, Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) and Medicare Advantage, that cover telemedicine services (sometimes called Medicare Part C).
Certain telemedicine plans are provided by Medicare Section B. The telehealth services covered by Part B prior to Coronavirus were reserved for beneficiaries residing in designated rural areas and required appropriate medical consultation. However, following the advent of Coronavirus, telemedicine programs have been extended by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover all places of residence. For most recipients of telemedicine programs, 20 percent of the expense of the virtual visit and the deductible for Medicare Part B are liable.
Usually, people with Medicare Advantage plans have the same coverage for Medicare telemedicine as those with original Medicare. However, some Medicare Advantage proposals would have extended telemedicine coverage, as Medicare Advantage is provided by private insurers. For virtual coronavirus screenings, some providers are also waiving fees. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it's best to review the services and fees with your company.
A broad variety of facilities are now covered for virtual visits under the 2020 Medicare telemedicine extension. Here are some examples of Medicare covering telemedicine services:
Physical Therapy Evaluations
Doctor’s office visits
Occupational Therapy Evaluations
Healthcare Professionals that can Provide Telehealth Services
Licensed Social Workers
There are three main telehealth services doctors and other medical professionals can offer that are covered under Medicare, according to CMS.
Medicare Telehealth Visits: a visit between a physician and a patient to a provider that uses telecommunication systems.
Virtual check-ins: a brief (5-10 minutes) check-in via telephone or other telecommunications device with your doctor to determine if an office visit or other service is necessary. A remote assessment by an existing patient of recorded video and/or images submitted.
E-Visits: contact through an online patient portal between a patient and their provider.
Previously, telemedicine programs were restricted to those living in remote areas who required medical appointments with a healthcare provider or those residing in a nursing home or dialysis center located in a hospital. The White House Administration signed into law the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act in March 2020, which expanded telehealth services. Medicare beneficiaries are liable for telemedicine services under the enhanced services, irrespective of their place. As long as Coronavirus remains a threat, the coverage extension is available. If the programs will become permanent is uncertain.
In particular, telehealth services are useful for people over the age of 65, who are most vulnerable to Coronavirus. Sheltering in location has made it impossible to access the required health care for many seniors. A wide variety of healthcare services from the comfort of your home are now available through the increased benefits of Medicare telemedicine. Talk with a certified independent insurance provider in your region to find out which telehealth services are right for you.
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