Medicare will temporarily cover telemedicine services for its beneficiaries, online news site Healthcare Dive has reported. This novel move is part of the organization’s response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in the US.*

New Rules

The news was announced at a White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. While the temporary leniency lasts, Medicare beneficiaries can visit any doctor via phone or video conference (including FaceTime and Skype) at no charge above the cost of an in-office visit, provided that doctor is licensed in the patient’s state of residence. HIPAA privacy laws concerning telehealth will also be temporarily suspended, enabling physicians to expand their scope of care.

Extended Coverage

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the policy change makes telehealth available to all Medicare beneficiaries, not just those with COVID-19-related concerns.

Covered services include:
  • routine office visits
  • mental health counseling sessions
  • preventive health screenings

Limiting Disease Spread

The hope is that widespread telehealth use will limit exposure to the virus, and free up clinic and hospital capacity during the outbreak. It is expected that regulations will return to normal once the COVID-19 national emergency designation has been revoked.

Some private insurers are also encouraging telehealth use. Contact your insurance company to find out about telehealth provisions during the outbreak.

To learn more, read the original article at Healthcare Dive.

*Pifer, Rebecca. (2020, March 17). Medicare will now cover telehealth to fight coronavirus. Healthcare Dive.