Medicare and Coronavirus
We continue to take steps here in the state of New Jersey and across the nation to combat the spread of Coronavirus through social distancing, PPE, and wearing face coverings. Medicare recipients are the most vulnerable populations so what is Medicare doing to combat the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19?
What Coronavirus-Related Issues Does Medicare Cover?
Medicare.gov's web resources on COVID-19 cover a range of different topics, from stress management during the pandemic to just your basic guidelines for how to stay safe and healthy in this time. What they also include, however, is a list of what your Medicare coverage can handle, including:
- COVID-19 lab tests, with zero out-of-pocket cost.
- COVID-19 antibody (serology) tests that are approved by the FDA, but only if you were diagnosed with COVID-19 or have a suspected current or past infection.
- All hospital stays deemed medically necessary. This includes any time you spend in the hospital under quarantine after discharge. All normal deductibles, coinsurances, and copays will still apply.
- COVID-19 vaccine, if and when it becomes available.
- Anyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan has the same access to these benefits. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits and expanded benefits including no copayments for doctor visits. Each plan is different so check your plan to learn the exact changes for your policy.
Telehealth and Coronavirus
Telehealth has been available for a number of years but it has become hugely popular in the since Coronavirus began. Telehealth is having an appointment with your doctor, nurse, therapist, or any healthcare provider virtually using a smart phone, computer, or tablet device. This allows you to speak to a professional from the comfort of your home, without having to physically go to a healthcare facility. Medicare will pay for this service the same as a normal in person healthcare visit.
How is Medicare Enrollment Affected by Coronavirus?
If you are turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare for the first time, you can do so on Social Security’s website https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/.
Individuals who delayed their Medicare Part B because they were working typically have to go to their local Social Security office to apply for Medicare Part B. Since local Social Security offices are temporarily closed Medicare is allowing you to apply via mail or fax. The Part B application and employment information forms can be mailed to your local New Jersey office or faxed to 1-833-914-2016. Make a copy of any forms before mailing them.
If you need assistance in choosing your coverage and understanding your options, you can engage with agents at New Jersey Medicare Brokers. They specialize in Medicare and the plans available in your area and remain up to date on the latest changes with Coronavirus.