Health Care

Medicare and Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published by Hailey Ploski

While Medicare recipients typically are governed by strict telehealth restrictions, some of those have been waived through the CARES Act. During this period of ongoing change, we all must take care of ourselves and try to stay as healthy as possible. Thankfully, telehealth now allows for many patients to receive regular medical care without needing to leave the house. How can Medicare patients receive healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Changes to Telehealth and Medicare

A specific provision in the CARES Act relaxed some of the restrictions around telehealth services during the public health emergency currently happening. This waiver allows Medicare beneficiaries to get telehealth services at home through a smartphone with audio and video capabilities. Most importantly, it removes the need for physicians providing services to have treated the beneficiary within the last 3 years prior to using telehealth services. This means that you can see new doctors or specialists via telehealth without needing to see them in person first. Telehealth can be used for a variety of purposes, including COVID-19 concerns, regular office visits, preventative care and mental health counseling,

What Services Are Covered?

The entire list of covered codes and services can be found here on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website, but the highlights include:

  • Psychiatric care
  • Group therapy
  • Speech and hearing therapy
  • Developmental screenings
  • Traditional office visits
  • Pediatric care
  • Diabetes management
  • Hospice consultations
  • Counseling for alcohol, tobacco or substance abuse
  • And more!

What Else Should Medicare Beneficiaries Know?

  • The reimbursement received is the same that would be given if the appointments were conducted in-person, and some rates for telehealth visits have been slightly increased.
  • Out-of-pocket costs will still apply, but health care providers are granted the flexibility to reduce or waive fees at their discretion, and all COVID-19 testing fees should be waived.
  • Consent for receiving telehealth services only needs to be given once a year, and it can be obtained at any time.
  • Doctors who are licensed in one state can provide services to a Medicare beneficiary in another state, but state licensing laws will still apply.
  • If you do not have a device with video capabilities, many services can be offered via audio-only telephones.

Stay Healthy with Secure Benefits Alliance

Secure Benefits Alliance is proud to be Medicare and dental care problem-solvers for thousands of patients throughout the greater Baltimore area. There is no cost to use our services and take advantage of our wealth of Medicare knowledge. To have your Medicare or health insurance questions answered by our knowledgeable team, contact Secure Benefits Alliance today by calling 443-912-5467 (TTY: 711).