Medicare is getting in-the-loop with the digital age by launching a new app earlier this year. The idea is to help beneficiaries plan the services that Medicare covers.
Spending time sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office can lead to many questions. You may find yourself wondering if your policy will cover a certain procedure or service.
Well now, there’s an app for that. That’s right; the new, free app gives users a fast and easy way to check if the program covers a specific medical service or item (device).
The Medicare “What’s Covered” App
Medicare’s new “What’s Covered” app allows beneficiaries to check services. This includes benefits that fall under Parts A and B coverage.
Also, the app can determine how and when to receive benefits and coverage. The app gives a basic cost list and other details about eligibility.
Another benefit of the app is the list of preventive services the program covers. However, results for advantage plans aren’t in the app.
The “What’s Covered” App Benefits
Providing users with answers to a variety of questions, the types of questions may vary.
For example, questions such as mammogram coverage, home health care, and diabetes supplies. Many beneficiaries ask about coverage for smoking cessation.
This is just the start of the list.
Beneficiaries may get basic information out of using the app. However, personalizing the app isn’t an option.
There’s no need to worry about the app using your personal information because it doesn’t ask for any user specifics.
Since there’s no user information; the app doesn’t have the ability to factor in supplemental insurance, co-insurance, or deductibles. The app is a mobile, hand-held way for beneficiaries to get the information that’s available in the Medicare handbook.
Taking part in an initiative by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “eMedicare”. With over 60 million enrollees in the governments’ health program, CMS wants to keep current with the times.
Medicare’s New “What’s Covered” App
This new app focuses on updating Medicare to modern times. In turn, CMS hopes to empower beneficiaries by offering tools that are relevant.
For many seniors, whether Medicare covers a service or procedure isn’t a yes or no answer. One example is the category “home health services”.
Although, beneficiaries aren’t eligible if additional care is necessary after SNF care ends.
This is because Medicare doesn’t cover “custodial care” or rehabilitative services. Including help with daily living activities such as bathing, eating, and dressing.
Medicare’s new What’s Covered app updates include language settings. Both Spanish and English settings are available.
Similarly, the app features a device setting for language. Meaning, if the device language is Mandarin – the app will translate.
This can make navigating through the app much easier for those who fluently speak a foreign language.
How to Use the What’s Covered App
Seniors are more and more tech-savvy as time goes on. The Medicare What’s Covered app is available to download for free in both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
Users with iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and other Apple devices, should visit their Apple App Store for their free download. Android or other tablet users may download the app via Google Play Store, free of charge.
After installing, use the app in the doctor’s office, hospital, or anywhere; even if there’s no signal available.
So, what’s the actual feedback of the app’s users? User experience is one of the most important parts of a new app. After all, the person using the app is who matters, right?
According to Kaiser Health News, Milt Roney (71, a retiree from Washington, D.C.) gave his thoughts about the app. At first, Roney was skeptical saying “I wouldn’t use an app like that,” he went on “[My procedures are] going to be covered, and I’m not going to worry about it.”
Casey Schwarz, senior counsel for the Medicare Rights Center also gave her statement. “Usable and good for general information, it doesn’t provide Personal Information that might be more helpful in making treatment or access decisions”.
Is the New Medicare What’s Covered App Easy to Use
However, AARP reports that roughly 46% of individuals aged 60+ don’t even have smartphones. Even lower on the scale are those 70+ with only 29% of them having smartphones.
Although, both Google and Apple users alike found the app by searching “Medicare”.
The app pops up first even though there are other Medicare apps on each platform. One user mentions how it took a few minutes to determine which app was the CMS tool.
Using the search function for one user, gave no results. her doctor told her to type “Dexa scan” in the search bar.
Instead, she had to sort through the list of procedures the program covers to find “bone mass measurements”. She was able to determine Part B coverage for 1 test every 2 years.
However, she never saw the term “Dexa scan”. Although, electronic resources may help determine coverage of certain procedures or items.
The application is simply a basic, general information tool. Users may find this app helps them estimate the out-of-pocket costs of a service.
On the other hand, users won’t find any information on how to choose a supplemental plan. This information isn’t available because the application can’t support requiring users to input personal information.
CMS’s Upcoming Initiatives
Expect more new ideas to start rolling out as CMS accommodates tech-savvy beneficiaries. An interactive online tool to help beneficiaries realize their costs and coverage options. The website allows users to compare Medicare and Advantage plans.
New price transparency tools let consumers see the national average costs in comparison to their cost. Price transparency tools may help compare the costs of procedures between settings. Meaning, patients can see their cost of service from a hospital outpatient setting in comparison to an ambulatory surgical facility. CMS also offers a Care Compare tool, where beneficiaries can find health care practitioners near them who accept Medicare.
The Plan Finder now has a new webchat option if you’re up for it. Medicare.gov offers many new easy-to-use surveys that provide CMS with what consumers want.
Medicare wants to hear from the users themselves. Ratings and reviews can help push any app updates in the right direction; as well as understand what consumers enjoy while using the app.