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What is My Medicare Doing To Take Care of Me During Coronavirus?

Your health, safety, and welfare in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is top priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness.  This means that most people with Medicare are at higher risk.

Every day, Medicare is responsible for developing and enforcing the essential health and safety requirements that health care providers must meet. When you go to a healthcare provider, you expect a certain standard of care, and we work to make sure you get it. That includes taking additional steps in response to coronavirus:

  • Medicare Advantage Plans and Prescription Drug Plans may waive or relax prior authorization requirements.
  • Taking aggressive actions and exercising regulatory flexibilities to help healthcare providers and Medicare health plans.
  • Waiving certain requirements for skilled nursing facility care.
  • Establishing new codes to allow providers to correctly bill for services related to diagnosis and treatment of the illness.
  • Instructing their national network of State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations to focus all their efforts on infection prevention and other cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes and hospitals.

Telehealth & related services

Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to the current Public Health Emergency. During this time, you will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings without a copayment if you have Original Medicare. 

  • You need to consent verbally to using virtual check-ins and your doctor must document that consent in your medical record before you use this service. 
  • Medicare also pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals without going to the doctor’s office. Like the virtual check-ins, you must initiate these individual communications.
  • You may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. 

Coping With Stress

Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may result in increased stress during a crisis. Here are a few things you can do to cope with that stress:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
  • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call
    • 911
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (TTY: 1-800-846-8517).

Medicare covers related needs

  • If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. 
  • Scammers may use the coronavirus national emergency to take advantage of people while they’re distracted. As always, guard your Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and if someone calls asking for your Medicare Number, hang up!
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Disclaimers: Outside of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, members can enroll in a plan only if they meet certain criteria. A licensed insurance agent can help you determine whether you are eligible. Plan availability varies by region and state. Callers will be directed to a licensed insurance agent with a third-party partner of MedicareGap.org who can provide more information about Medicare Advantage plans offered by one or several Medicare-contracted carrier(s). Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal. Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information contained in this advertisement. Not connected with, or endorsed by, the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. This information is not a complete description of benefits. For a complete listing of Medicare plans, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or consult www.medicare.gov.