What is Changing in Medicare Post COVID
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Our world has needed to adjust in many ways since the beginning of the global health crisis. Additionally, those eligible for Medicare tend to be at greater risk of severe symptoms when contracting the virus. So, what can we expect from Medicare in the post-COVID United States? Below, we dive into a few topics and their potential future changes.
Post-COVID Impacts on Medicare
Increased Telehealth and Telemedicine
In light of the emergency declaration, HHS has waived restrictions that formerly applied to telemedicine under Medicare. This emergency waiver has allowed CMS to expand the benefit for patients to receive care in the comfort of their own homes. It isn’t limited to rural areas, as it partially was before.
For the duration of the pandemic, CMS will lift the restrictions so patients can remain healthy. Additionally, the use of telemedicine can reduce the risk of spreading and contracting the virus.
There are three types of telemedicine services under Medicare: telehealth visits, virtual check-ins, and e-visits. The emergency waiver allows new patients to communicate with their provider through a telehealth visit and won’t audit for prior relationships in the time of COVID.
These increased benefits will likely remain after the pandemic is over. The convenience of health care in one’s home is an improvement that technology has allowed. Telehealth often allows the provider more time with the patient due to completing paperwork before the appointment.
Increased Mental Health Resources
In addition to doctors and nurse practitioners, telehealth services provided by licensed clinical social workers and clinical psychologists receive coverage. This offering has made mental health care more accessible to many.
In a post-COVID America, increased access to mental health care will be a high priority. Prolonged isolation and living through a global pandemic increase the need for therapy. Like telehealth in general, mental health care employing such technologies will make care more broadly and easily accessible.
Move to Value-Based Care
Since the start of the pandemic, CMS has prioritized moving to a more value-based system of care. This type of system assesses the quality of care above sheer volume.
A fee-for-service system focuses largely on the volume of care. The pandemic has shown the flaws in this type of system. A value-based system has goals of better health care for all participants. It addresses social factors that determine the health of a population.
Coronavirus Standard Testing and Antibody Testing with Medicare
Part B covers testing for COVID-19. Testing doesn’t require a physician’s order, making it possible for recipients to use drive-through testing centers.
SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests also receive coverage. Antibody tests inform patients if the virus has infected them previously. Advantage plans must also provide the tests for COVID-19 and its antibodies. Medicare doesn’t require cost-sharing for either test, as they are diagnostic lab tests.
As of now, there is no limit to how many times Medicare will cover an antibody test. As long as the lab it’s ordered from is Medicare-approved, you can request as many as you want. Both Part B and Medicare Advantage plans will cover the cost at 100%.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act waives cost-sharing for services related to testing for COVID-19. This waiver includes in-person and online evaluations of potential symptoms. It also applies to Advantage participants.
When the pandemic is over, it’s unclear if full coverage of testing without cost-sharing will continue. We’ll update the content on this page to reflect the current state of coverage.
Medicare Coverage for a Future COVID-19 Vaccine
A vaccination against COVID-19 is not yet available to the public. However, some candidates are currently in stages of development.
When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes publicly available, Part B or Part D will likely cover it. If it’s covered by Part B, like the flu shot, a practitioner must administer the vaccine. If Part D covers it, such as is the case with the shingles vaccine, it may be self-administered.
We’ll update this content when information becomes available about coverage for the vaccine.
Medicare Coverage for Home Health Services Post-COVID
COVID-19 has unfortunately claimed the lives of many elderly Americans. Many have passed away during a stay in a skilled nursing facility.
During the pandemic, Medicare has waived some recipients’ need to start a new benefit period before renewing Skilled Nursing Facility coverage. Also, Medicare offers Skilled Nursing Facility care to those unable to stay in their homes, waiving the requirement of a qualifying hospital stay.
Home health services have also been allowed more flexibility in the time of coronavirus. CMS may make further changes to HHS in the future to encourage treatment at home.
Equitable Relief for Those Unable to Sign up for Medicare Due to COVID
You might be eligible for equitable relief if there was a problem will accessing the Social Security Administration to file an application for Medicare. So, if you missed your opportunity to enroll because offices were closed and you weren’t able to get questions answered, you’ll be able to enroll in Medicare. Equitable relief is retroactive between March 17, 2020, and June 17, 2020. Your effective date for Medicare will be the same as it would have been if you didn’t miss the enrollment period.
How to Get Coverage for Medicare Post COVID
Getting a Medicare plan post-COVID is the same as getting one before the pandemic. Now, here at MedicareFAQ, we make it safe for you by giving you access to Medicare experts over the phone. You can get expert advice, ask our agents questions, and they can even walk you through the process of signing up for the best plan.
Give us a call at the number above or fill out the online rate form to get your rates now!