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Medicare and Coronavirus

Medicare is a federal program, which provides health insurance for citizens 65 years and older, as well as folks under the age of 65 who are on Social Security Disability. In addition, people with certain other illnesses can be eligible to receive Medicare Benefits. The term Medicare can be thought of as an umbrella term covering a variety of components. Medicare Part A provides hospitalization insurance. Medicare Part B is more like standard health insurance in that it helps to cover the costs of accepted standards of treatment for illnesses, a variety of preventive medicine services, prescription and medical equipment, and a variety of other coverages. Medicare Parts C and D are adjuncts to the other parts and involve partnering with private insurance companies.

What Medicare covers

Testing for coronavirus is in the process of being rolled out across the nation. Medicare will pick up the full cost of patients receiving the test - beneficiaries will be liable for no out of pocket expenses. Medical Advantage will also cover the costs of lab work associated with coronavirus testing. Check your plan for full details. Should hospitalization be required by a patient with COVID-19 Medicare will cover those costs. Once a vaccine becomes widely available to patients, its cost will be covered by Medicare Part D. If your doctor provides telemedicine services, that too can be covered by Medicare.

Early prescription refills

Medicare typically has “refill too soon” restrictions that limit the ability of a patient to refill their medicine before a set timetable. Recognizing that in the current situation this could hamper folk’s ability to access their medications many of the various Medicare restrictions are being relaxed. You’ll need to check the specific details of your plan, but patients should explore whether they have this flexibility so that they may, for example, consolidate shopping trips in order to limit exposure. Other prescription rules are also being relaxed. Medicare Advantage and Part D are being implemented. You may now be able to obtain medications from out-of-network providers, obtain prescription via the mail, and you may no longer be required to obtain prior authorizations for certain medications. Check for details. Finally, those at higher risk of infection can explore telemedicine options. Medicare is expanding its coverage of these services.

Tips for keeping yourself healthy

Even as the pandemic spreads across the country, there are things individuals can do to lower their risk of exposure to the coronavirus. The Center for Disease Control recommends a variety of ways to reduce your risk of exposure. First and foremost, you should wash your hands thoroughly and often. Use plenty of soap and water and seek to scrub for at least 20 seconds. Be especially vigilant about washing after you sneeze, after using the bathroom and always before eating. Germs can enter body through your mouth, nose and eyes, see try to avoid touching your face as much as possible, especially if you haven’t washed your hands in awhile. If you start to fell unwell, stay home. Practice social distancing. Social distancing is a term for increasing the amount of space between you and others. Experts recommend a six-foot distance to reduce the chance of virus transmission. Avoid crowded spaces whenever possible. When outdoors, try avoid or minimize certain high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, table surfaces, light switches, etc. Lastly, and for some most painfully, try to refrain from hugs and handshakes.

Prepare for your health care needs

In order to facilitate social distancing and self-isolation, make sure that you have adequate supply of any medications you need, both prescription and over the counter. Try to lay in tissues, groceries and any other supplies you may need in order to be prepared to limit your social contacts. If you need to go to the store for supplies, see if you can avoid the most crowded periods such as lunchtime or after 5pm.

Extra caution with crowds and travel

The COVID-19 virus impacts the respiratory system and may be more easily transmitted in crowded environments, especially those with limited air circulation. Consider minimizing or avoiding congregating in poorly ventilated spaces. Travelers with existing health issues and older adults in general should be especially careful, as they may be more prone to the worst symptoms of the virus.

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