During the coronavirus pandemic, health and well-being have been pushed into the national spotlight. In an effort to save hospitals from being overwhelmed with more coronavirus cases than they could manage, federal, state and local governments put precautions in place, forcing individuals to find ways to stay healthy amid new circumstances.
For the higher-risk population of retirees, the pandemic caused several impactful changes. Many hospitals preparing for an expected influx of critically ill patients took the rare step of postponing or canceling nonurgent procedures. Even primary care visits have been affected, as medical practices have tried to eliminate contact between patients.
Precautions specific to the pandemic may go through cycles of relaxing and ramping back up as the effects of the virus fluctuate, but you should stay vigilant about managing your health. Along with washing your hands and making sure you’re mentally and physically active, here are some things to consider.
1. Coronavirus testing is now covered by Medicare
A test for the coronavirus and any related services, including an appointment with a doctor that leads to the test, should be covered by Medicare Part B or Medicare Advantage. Additionally, should a vaccine become available, Medicare is required to cover it under Part B as a provision of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. There should be no deductible or coinsurance due for the test or the vaccine.
2. You should be able to stock up on your prescriptions
The CARES act also requires Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage to provide up to a 90-day supply of covered prescriptions. This way, if you’re nervous about being able to go out and refill prescriptions in the future, you can get more of your medication at one time and limit your trips to the pharmacy.
3. Get comfortable with telehealth
For 2020 and 2021, those who use telehealth services before reaching their deductible will have those services fully covered by their plan provider, thanks to the CARES Act. Medicare has also recently relaxed restrictions on telehealth, and plans now allow you to connect with a range of professionals from your home. Some of the covered services include common office visits for evaluation and health management, mental health counseling and preventive health screenings. Telehealth services allow you to access the professionals you need without having to risk your health or the health of others by traveling to a healthcare facility. Learn more on specific telehealth policies for Medicare recipients during the pandemic.