Medicare is the leading healthcare insurance program for individuals in the United States age 65 years and older. Now that the coronavirus has hit the United States, with older adults and those with chronic serious medical conditions at a higher risk, what is Medicare’s response to the coronavirus?
Medicare has dedicated a page on its site to the coronavirus including information on its coverage and precautions to take during this precarious time.
What does Medicare Cover?
According to the Medicare website, coverage includes:
- Lab tests for COVID-19. There are no out-of-pocket expenses.
- All medically necessary hospitalizations. If, for example, you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 before being discharged from an inpatient hospital stay, you may remain in the hospital under quarantine.
- When a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
- If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.
- Medicare covers virtual check-ins enabling you to connect with your healthcare provider via phone, video, or an online patient portal without having to go for a visit. This will reduce your exposure to others.
While proper hygiene is essential for everyone, older adults must be even more vigilant. Medicare recommends that you do the following:
- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs.
- Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, faucets, etc.
- Try to avoid touching “high-touch” public places like door handles, elevator buttons, etc.
- Don’t shake hands with people.
- Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hands or finger if you must touch something.
- Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes.
- Wash your hands frequently, preferably with soap and water, for twenty seconds.
- Stay away from sick people.
- Avoid crowds and crowded places with poor ventilation.
- Avoid non-essential travel such as long plane trips and cruises.
While the vast majority of people survive the coronavirus, older adults and those with compromised immune systems must protect themselves with the above measures during this outbreak. According to the CDC, if you experience the following three symptoms, which may appear 2-14 days after exposure, it’s important to call your doctor.
- Shortness of breath
While governments are working to mitigate the transmission on a local and global level through early detection, containment/quarantines, and travel restrictions, individuals should follow the above recommendations to protect themselves and the people around them.