COVID-19, General, Medicare

Medicare and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

April 2, 2020 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: February 21, 2023

With the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), being informed about your Medicare coverage is more important than ever.

Medicare recently expanded its coverage of telehealth services. Telehealth enables beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. It also helps frontline clinicians stay safe themselves while treating people.

If your doctor orders a COVID-19 test for you, Medicare covers all of the costs. You should not have any co-pay, no matter what Medicare plan you’re enrolled in. There’s no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time, but when one becomes available, Medicare will cover it.

Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes extra days in the hospital for in-patients who were on the verge of being discharged, but were diagnosed with COVID-19 and had to stay longer under quarantine.

Doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers can deliver telehealth services. Medicare beneficiaries can receive telehealth services in their home, as well as in any healthcare facility, a physician’s office, hospital, nursing home, or rural health clinic.

Telehealth services can include routine office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings for cancer and other illnesses.

By helping healthcare institutions across the nation offer medical services remotely, telehealth helps free up hospital emergency departments and doctors’ offices to deal with the most urgent COVID-19 cases.

During this emergency, Medicare will pay for telehealth services at the same rates as in-person services, giving doctors and other medical professionals the opportunity to reserve their offices to treat those who truly require in-person care.

We know many Medicare beneficiaries are concerned about the spread of coronavirus and the threat it poses to their well-being. That’s why we’ve taken these rapid steps to ensure that the Medicare program continues to protect our beneficiaries while maintaining trusted access to care in these uncertain times.

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  1. Coy H.

    How can I get a telehealth
    Will I need a prescription for it or what

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Coy. Thank you for using our blog. The Medicare web page on Telehealth has details which you may find helpful. Thank you.

  2. liz

    buenas noches una pregunta estoy recibiendo ssdi y tenia que reaplicar para medicare part b y ahora para mayo 2020 me descontaron para mi prima medicare part b la srta del seguro social me dijo que llamaran a mi trabajadora social y aplique para QMB ahora me pusieron en el sistema de nuevo porque debido al coronavirus extendieron me dijeron que ese dinero que descontaron es reembolsable quisiera saber tarda mucho tiempo en devolver puesto que elotro mes pago mi renta gracias de antemano

  3. Barry C.

    I am a retiree receiving SSA retirement checks. Do I need to do anything in order to receive stimulas payments?

  4. Walter H.

    My wife is on Medicare and requires a blood test since she is on Warfarin. I do not want her to go to Quest due to the current situation. Her cardiologist will send someone to our home for the test. Is this fully covered by Medicare since it is a blood test? Is there a copay?

  5. Marci

    I just spoke to a lady at Novitas and honestly, I believe that the incident to rules need to be reviewed and explained better in regards to NPP’s being supervised by CP’s. We see nursing home patients for mental health and during this time especially, our services are needed more than ever. Our CP’s cannot possibly see all of the residents in the nursing homes by themselves via telehealth and there is no documentation regarding the incident to requirements via telehealth services. This poses a problem for the patients who were previously seen on a weekly basis and cannot be seen due to the rules currently in place by CMS, therefore, causing more work for the nursing homes, which are understaffed at this time. I do believe that you are all doing a great job dealing with all of the problems being posed, however, I think that mental health has too many grey areas and this should be addressed. We have LPC’s, LPA’s and LMFT’s who all can perform their psychotherapy services without supervision to Medicaid patients and most private insurance patients, however, for Medicare patients, they need a supervisor in the same office suite as they are when they provide their services. As long as a provider works within the scope of their practice, they should be able to provide mental health services to Medicare patients just the same as they do to Medicaid/private insurance patients. Please look into this issue as soon as possible so that more patients can receive the mental health services that are desperately needed. Thanking you in advance.

  6. Marci

    I would like to know the COVID-19 guidelines for incident to mental health services provided via telehealth by a NPP and the supervision requirements for the clinical psychologist (CP). Under normal circumstances, the CP has to be present in the “office suite” when the NPP provides services incident to the CP. The COVID-19 rules only states that the CP or LCSW can provide this service. It does not mention anything about incident to supervision for NPP’s during this pandemic.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Marci. Thank you for using our blog. The Medicare web page on Telehealth has additional details which you may find helpful. Thank you.

  7. Amanda B.

    Is CMS planning to issue a section 1135(b)8 waiver to allow for physical therapists to provide services to their Medicare beneficiaries via telehealth? Time is ticking… everyday that passes is another day that physical therapy healthcare providers across the country must unnecessarily come in physical contact with our vulnerable Medicare patients which could put them at risk for significant health consequences. This is easily prevented by granting the 1135 waiver. Many of the providers don’t even have proper PPE available! Please make telehealth available ASAP! Thank you for the endless hours of work you have put into problem solving during this pandemic!

  8. David D.

    CMS, appreciate that you added CPT codes to be used for Telehealth which are consistent with Rehab codes.
    Please now take the final steps to enable PT’s and OT’s to deliver our services via this medium especially in light of the current crisis and so many of our patients not able to be seen in our clinics. Thanks so much.

  9. Sarah H.

    I was very excited to see that codes for rehabilitation (like physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy) were added to the payable codes via telehealth. However, you do not allow physical therapists, occupational therapists or speech therapists to be paid for telehealth.

    Can you explain this reasoning?
    Also, could I please just note that I do have many Medicare beneficiaries reaching out to me for help, but as of yet I cannot help them via telehealth. Could you please either change the current rule and allow PTs, OTs, and SLPs to bill and be paid for telehealth services? Or tell us what we should do to help our patients reaching out for help?

  10. Scientist

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