Medicare beneficiaries can limit their risk of Coronavirus exposure by using Medicare telehealth benefits. You can safely communicate with your doctors and other healthcare professionals using telehealth services. Please read this article to learn how to use Medicare telehealth benefits for doctor visits, counseling, and mental health.
Furthermore, you can use telehealth services using Internet devices you already have at home. For example, you can use your iPhone, iPad, or computer with a webcam. Using Medicare Telehealth services during the Coronavirus Pandemic can keep you safe. So what are Medicare Telehealth benefits?
Medicare Part B Telehealth
Medicare Part B covers certain telehealth medical services with healthcare professionals using real-time video communication on the Internet. If you are new to Medicare, you can apply for Medicare Part B, which covers certain telehealth benefits. However, you are responsible for paying 20% coinsurance and Part B deductible. (Medicare.gov)
You can get a Medicare Supplement plan that pays your Part B coinsurance. For example, Medigap Plan G covers 100% of your Part B coinsurance. So you can use telehealth services as often as you want and only have to pay a one-time annual Part B deductible. Now that you know what telehealth costs, why is should you use it?
Telehealth Protects the Lives of Seniors
Fred, a Medicare Beneficiary, got sick and needs to see a doctor. Instead of traveling to the doctor’s office and exposing himself to infected people, Fred uses Medicare Telehealth services. It keeps him safe from Coronavirus exposure.
Moreover, Fred has a wife at home. The worse thing Fred could do is get COVID-19 from another sick patient by traveling to his doctor’s office. Then bring the virus home to his wife.
For these reasons, Fred uses his home computer and WiFi Internet for an e-visit with his doctor. Fred opens his email and clicks a link to a video chat application on his laptop. The doctor appears on Fred’s computer screen as a real-time video, and Fred’s built-in video camera and microphone allow him to communicate with his doctor.
The doctor asks Fred several medical questions about his symptoms. Then the doctor prescribes medication to treat the condition. Fred takes the prescribed medicine and is feeling better. Most importantly, Fred’s wife is still healthy. Now that you know telehealth keeps you and your family safe from the Coronavirus, what Medicare telehealth benefits can you use?
Medicare Part B Telehealth Counseling
Medicare Part B can provide you with the following counseling telehealth benefits:
- Alcohol misuse counseling
- Cardiovascular behavioral therapy
- Diabetes self-management training
- Medical nutrition therapy
- Obesity counseling
- STI counseling
- Tobacco cessation counseling
Alcohol Misuse Counseling
You can receive alcohol misuse counseling when your primary doctor determines you are misusing alcohol. Consequently, you can get up to 4 brief face-to-face counseling sessions per year.
If you are someone you care about is drinking too much alcohol or using other drugs, call Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66747.
Cardiovascular Behavioral Therapy
Cardiovascular behavioral therapy helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. You can receive one therapy visit per year with your primary care doctor. Moreover, you pay nothing as long as your doctor accepts Medicare assignments.
During therapy, your doctor may discuss aspirin use, blood pressure and give you tips on eating well.
Diabetes Self-Management Training
When your doctor diagnoses you with diabetes, you can get diabetes self-management training (DSMT). This training teaches you to cope with and manage your diabetes. For example, DSMT may include eating healthy, being active, monitoring blood sugar, taking prescription drugs, and reducing risks. DSMT may cover up to ten hours, for instance, one hour of individual training and 9 hours of group training. So now that you know what DSMT includes and covers, what does it cost?
Medicare will pay 80% of DSMT costs. Thus, you must pay the remaining 20% unless you have a Medicare Supplement plan. Furthermore, you will need to pay the Part B deductible.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
If a doctor diagnoses you with diabetes or kidney disease, you qualify for medical nutrition therapy (MNT). Likewise, you also qualify for MNT if you had a recent kidney transplant. In these cases, Original Medicare covers all costs, so you pay nothing. MNT may include the following:
- An initial nutrition and lifestyle assessment
- Individual or group nutrition therapy services
- Help you manage the lifestyle factors that affect your diabetes
- Follow-up visits to check your progress in achieving your diet
Obesity Behavioral Therapy
Doctors use a reference chart called Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine whether a person is obese or not. To find your BMI number, you locate your height in inches, then your weight in pounds. If you have a BMI of 30 or more, you may qualify for Obesity Behavioral Therapy.
You can talk with your doctor or other primary care practitioners to help you lose weight by focusing on diet and exercise.
You can receive counseling for sexually transmitted infections (STI) if you are a sexually active adolescent or adult with an increased risk of STIs. You can have up to 2 individual 20-30 minute, face-to-face, high-intensity behavioral counseling sessions every year for free. So what are the benefits of STI counseling?
The counseling program is intended to promote sexual risk reduction or risk avoidance through education, skills training, and guidance of sexual behavior.
Tobacco Cessation Counseling
A doctor or health care provider who accepts Medicare assignment can provide up to 8 visits of smoking and tobacco-use cessation counseling per year. These counseling visits can help you stop smoking or using tobacco.
You can get help to quite smoking by calling 1-800-QUITNOW (784-8669).
Betty’s Coronavirus Anxiety and Medicare Telehealth
Betty is a Medicare beneficiary and has not been face-to-face with her grandkids in six weeks. Like many grandmothers across the country, Betty has socially isolated herself to avoid spreading and becoming infected by COVID-19. Moreover, Betty has chronic heart disease and puts her at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. So she stays home and only leaves to visit the pharmacy and grocery store.
Everywhere Betty goes, she puts on her face mask and sees other people wearing face masks. When waiting in line at the pharmacy, Betty stands on social distancing floor markings. At checkout, a plexiglass barrier further isolates her from the checkout clerk. The entire experience is emotionally disturbing. Then Betty gets a call from her son.
Doug told his mother, “I tested positive for the Coronavirus.” Betty is shocked and dismayed that her son has COVID-19, especially because Doug has diabetes and is at higher risk for severe illness. Betty is having trouble sleeping. She schedules a telehealth call with a psychologist.
Doctor Feldman a clinical psychologist, speaks with Betty on a real-time video call. Dr. Feldman listens to Betty and gives her some professional advice, including behaviors for reducing her anxiety. As a result, Betty is feeling better and sleeping better.
Get Medicare Telehealth for Coronavirus Anxiety
Betty got the mental health services she needed for her Coronavirus anxiety, and so can you. Medicare Part B covers 80% of the costs of outpatient mental health. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount and Part B deductible. With Medicare telehealth benefits, you can communicate with a mental health professional from the safety of your home. Moreover, you can avoid paying Part B coinsurance with a Medicare supplement plan.
Senior Healthcare Direct can help you find the best Medicare supplement plan for you. We can shop and compare Medigap plans with the Top Supplement insurance companies. To get a free Medigap quote, call 1-855-368-4717 or get a quote.