Medicare as applied to COVID-19

How does Medicare work in relation to COVID-19?

The answers are from Wendy Barrett, a licensed Medicare advisor and SFG Medicare’s Medicare Education Outreach specialist.

 • Will Medicare cover a test for the coronavirus? “Medicare Part B will fully cover the cost of COVID-19 lab tests.”

 • Will Medicare cover care for COVID-19, the disease the virus can cause? “Medicare Part A will also cover all medically necessary hospitalizations.

“It specifies that this “includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.”

• What about nursing or long-term care after a hospitalization? “Medicare covers skilled nursing care after a qualified hospital stay. This is  health care given when you need skilled nursing or skilled therapy to treat, manage and observe your condition and evaluate your care.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, some people may be able to get renewed SNF coverage without first having to start a new benefit period. If you’re not able to be in your home during the COVID-19 pandemic or are otherwise affected by the pandemic, you can get SNF care without a qualifying hospital stay. Medicare does not cover long-term care.

“Long-term care is a range of services and support for your personal care needs.

“Most long-term care isn’t medical care. Instead, most long-term care is help with basic personal tasks of everyday life like bathing, dressing and using the bathroom, sometimes called activities of daily living.”

• Would Medicare cover a COVID-19 vaccine if one became available? “While there is currently no vaccine, if one is developed it will be covered under all Part D prescription plans.”

• Will Medicare cover telehealth? “Telemedicine visits — that’s a virtual visit with your doctor, typically done via a video call — will be covered and can be done from your home using your smartphone, computer or tablet. A deductible or coinsurance may apply.

“Some healthcare plans may waive copays so check with your plan to confirm your share of expenses.  Previously, you would need to travel to an approved health facility to meet with a doctor. (For example, if a beneficiary in a rural area needed to meet with a specialist who practiced hundreds of miles away).

“Now, instead of going to a doctor’s office or hospital, which would increase your chance of being exposed to the coronavirus, you can have many routine or preventative visits via telehealth.”