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Six Medicare Changes 2020 You Should Know
To protect the health and safety of the millions of people on Medicare, there have been many adjustments made to Medicare benefits following the development of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Learn more about the Medicare changes that took place in 2020 as a result of COVID-19.
1. Regulatory Changes to Medicare
The regulatory changes made to Medicare in response to COVID-19 were intended to assist healthcare providers in testing and treating coronavirus patients while maintaining social distancing requirements. Some of the Medicare regulatory changes include alternative and additional care sites. These regulatory changes allow easier access to prescription drugs and COVID testing, expanding access to doctors within the Medicare network and more. While some Medicare regulatory changes were deemed temporary when first announced, the administration has indicated they will likely make some permanent, such as expanded reimbursement for telemedicine services.1
2. COVID-19 Testing and Future Vaccine Covered by Medicare Part B
While there isn’t a vaccine for COVID-19 yet, both Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage plans cover the coronavirus test. Initially, Medicare beneficiaries were required to receive COVID-19 tests from their primary treating physician, but according to the updated changes made on April 30, 2020, this is no longer the case.2 This change gives you the opportunity to use community testing sites, such as drive-through testing. Medicare also covers serology tests, which can determine if someone has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
3. Telehealth Medicare COVID-19 Benefits
In an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare now pays for office, hospital, and other visits completed via telehealth. Telehealth benefits allow beneficiaries access to a wider range of services without having to risk their health or the health of others. The three types of virtual services covered include:.
- Medicare telehealth visits
- Virtual check-ins
4. Out of Network Coverage Available
On March 10, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a list of obligations and permissible flexibilities that were developed as a result of COVID-19. This list gives Medicare beneficiaries easier and wider access to services and facilities to protect their health and the health of others.
In addition to out-of-network coverage and access to greater care and facilities, the list also includes flexibility around prescription drug coverage. This includes the ability to access prescription medication prior to the refill date, reimbursements for out-of-network pharmacies and the option to have your medications mailed to you. While home delivery for your prescription medications might be an ideal option for you to avoid public spaces during the pandemic, it’s also important to remember that post offices nationwide have experienced a number of delays due to coronavirus, which could hold up the delivery of your medications.
5. Extended Supply of Prescription Drugs
It can historically be difficult to obtain extra refills of prescription medications due to ‘refill too soon’ restrictions. In light of COVID-19, Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D) are required to provide up to a 90-day (three month) supply of covered Part D medications to beneficiaries who request it.
6. Medicare Insurance Carrier Changes 2020
From waiving out-of-pocket costs to offering free mental health counseling, many Medicare insurance companies have made adjustments in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These Medicare changes are intended to relieve beneficiaries during such an overwhelming time and ensure they have the support they need to take care of their health at this time.
Let SelectQuote compare Medicare plans and navigate the complex Medicare changes in 2020.
COVID-19 has directly impacted Medicare coverage. At SelectQuote, we want to alleviate any worry or stress you might have when it comes to Medicare changes in 2020. The Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period takes place every year from October 15 – December 7. During this Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, we can answer any questions you may have about your options for coverage and ensure you’re still getting the benefits you deserve.