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Medicare Tele-Health is Here to Stay!

The future of the healthcare industry is evolving rapidly in response to the #COVID-19 pandemic, and a notable change is the increased access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has expanded the number of services available via virtual care and loosened policy regulations in order to make remote health care through Medicare more broadly available during the current crisis.


By definition, telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to access health care services remotely in order to manage one's health care (1). Whether it be via video chat, a telephone call, or different remote technology, Medicare beneficiaries can get in contact with a healthcare provider by appointment and receive treatment, care, and medical advice from a distance. Telehealth services allow Seniors to check-in with their physicians and maintain care without physically going to the doctor's office, or having to wait in a waiting room with other potentially sick people. More importantly, these virtual services are covered under Medicare just as a regular appointment would be.


Telehealth has been a crucial resource for Senior Citizens to have during the public emergency. When the nationwide lockdown began in early March, health officials have expressed multiple warnings to older Americans about the serious risk for complications if they were to contract the virus, so they should limit leaving their homes as much as possible. Previously, the use of telehealth in Medicare was specific to location and circumstance, such as for beneficiaries in rural areas or patients already in a hospital. But since early March, at least 10 million Medicare beneficiaries have used telehealth services (3).


As there is currently no end in sight as to when the pandemic will be over and life will resume normally, the current administration is working on solidifying that telehealth and other virtual care services for Medicare are here to stay. The next proposed coronavirus stimulus package, "The HEALS Act," introduces changes that would allow the Federal Communications Commission to fund more telehealth programs, and make certain telehealth freedoms permanent, continuing into 2021.


Although virtual care is not the same as meeting with a physician in person, during this time of extreme uncertainty, it is necessary to have viable options when it comes to getting the care you need. Because of telehealth and telemedicine, Seniors can be in the comfort of their own homes with access to most healthcare needs (4).


Here is a full list of telehealth services provided by Medicare.


References

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/telehealth/art-20044878

  2. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/13/medicare-telehealth-expansion-could-be-here-to-stay.html

  3. https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/medicare-seniors-telehealth-covid-coronavirus-cms-trump/578685/

  4. https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/the-covid-19-telehealth-expansion-bills-are-starting-to-pile-up


Working from home since early March, the Senior Specialists at Diversified have taken upon calling their current clients and reaching out to other Medicare members who may be in need of some assistance with their insurance. Our team has enrolled many Seniors in plans that include hearing, dental, vision, over the counter benefits, a personal emergency response system, and more - even during the pandemic.


Now more than ever, staying healthy is the main priority! Call us today at 1-844-244-8000 for a free Medicare benefit consultation or visit our website, and make sure that you and your loved ones are covered fully at the lowest possible cost.

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