After a national emergency was declared on March 13, 2020 in
response to the novel Coronavirus, the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded the coverage and services
available to all Medicare beneficiaries.
The FAQs below highlight these new services including
virtual access to care and offer tips to stay healthy, and reduce
This information will be updated as new services and
treatments become available.
Medicare’s response to COVID-19: Frequently asked questions
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses
resembling the common cold or flu. In more serious cases, they can
cause severe respiratory issues.
Coronaviruses are named for their spike covered
surfaces which resemble the points on a crown. Corona means
“crown” in Latin.
The coronavirus responsible for
the pandemic is called “novel” because it is a new strain never
seen before in humans. This virus is thought to have jumped from
animals to humans sometime in late 2019. Because it is a newly
discovered virus, it is unclear if anyone is immune to it.
The “Novel Coronavirus” or “COVID-19” is the common name of the
disease caused by theSars-CoV-2 virus (and is related to the SARS
virus that made headlines in 2002 and 2003). While this virus
shares many similar traits to the 2002 SARS virus, it’s believed
to be more infectious, but less deadly than its predecessor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that the
Novel Coronavirus is spread from human to human through droplets
of saliva or mucus containing the virus. Researchers believe the
primary means of transmission for the disease are the droplets
expelled from an infected person’s mouth during a cough or sneeze.
Researchers believe it is possible that people can get
COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface followed by touching
their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is
not thought to be the main way of contracting the virus.
Additionally, new research has found that the virus
particles can become aerosolized and are carried through moisture
when someone talks or breathes. You may not think you spit when
you speak, but consider breathing onto, or speaking near a mirror;
the fog left behind are the actual water droplets that could
transmit the virus. This is why social distancing and wearing
personal protective equipment (PPE) are important.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can vary significantly from one person to
the next. Some people are asymptomatic, meaning they experience no
symptoms, while others may experience severe, respiratory flu-like
According to the World Health Organization, the most common
symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, fatigue, and a dry cough. Some
infected people have also reported aches and pains, nasal
congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea.
If you are experiencing trouble breathing, persistent pain
or pressure in your chest, confusion or exhaustion, or bluish lips
or face, seek medical attention immediately.
At this time, there is no cure or definitive treatment for
COVID-19. Doctors and scientists are currently experimenting with
a range of medications that have been used to treat other
conditions before the appearance of Sars-CoV-2.
Patients with severe symptoms and respiratory
distress are being treated with supplemental oxygen. In serious
cases, a patient may need to be put on a ventilator. However, it
is important to keep in mind that about 80% of people recover from
the disease without needing special treatment. For cases that
don’t require hospitalization, self-care and treatment regimens
similar to those used for flu and cold infections are recommended.
CMS has recently reviewed and revised its policies and has
expanded coverage and offerings for all Medicare beneficiaries. As
a Medicare beneficiary, you will pay nothing out-of-pocket for
COVID-19 lab tests.
Will Medicare help pay for treatment and hospitalization as
a result of COVID-19? If you have to be hospitalized for COVID-19
treatment, Medicare will cover those costs, including fees for
extended quarantine stays in the hospital. Check with your plan
carrier for details of how your individual plan covers these
As soon as a vaccine is available, Medicare will cover the
full cost under all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
The safest place for anyone during this time is in their home with
others who are also self-isolating and social distancing. While
going to the doctor is still a necessity, there are other options
to help keep you safe from exposure to the virus. Telehealth, or
telemedicine, is one of those options.
In response to the pandemic, Medicare has expanded access to
telehealth services, allowing you to stay at home while still
checking in with your doctor for essential appointments.
Currently, Medicare patients may use telecommunication
technology for office visits, hospital visits and other services
that generally occur in-person.
The telehealth expansion includes:
➜ Greater access via a variety of
Ability to interact with different healthcare providers
Evaluation and management visits
➜ Mental health counseling
➜ Preventative screenings
These new telehealth options give you easy access to health
care without risking exposure.
The most important thing anyone can do to protect themselves from
contracting the Coronavirus is to stay home and distance
themselves from others. Because asymptomatic carriers are
increasingly thought to be the main source of the spread, it’s
smart to assume that everyone is infected — including yourself. By
staying home as much as possible and keeping at least six feet
away from those who don’t live with you, you’re reducing not only
your chances of infection, but also reducing the chances of
If you must leave your home, it’s a good idea to cover your
nose and mouth with a cloth mask.
To stay safe:
➜ Stay home as much as you can
➜ Stay at least six feet away from
➜ Wash hands frequently for at
least 20 seconds
➜ Sneeze and cough into your elbow
➜ If you’re sick, call before going
to your doctor or hospital
And remember, this is temporary, but the new way of life has
been challenging for most, and increasingly stressful for those
over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions during this
Here’s what you can do to reduce your anxiety and cope while
we get through this:
Connect with loved ones online
through social media, phone calls, or video chat
Try to limit the amount of news
you consume per day to reduce worry and anxiety
Go outside for some fresh air
Listen to your favorite music
Read or watch your favorite
Engage in a new or old hobby
Being kind to yourself
Overall, remember to make
practical, healthy choices that will help you weather the storm.
We’re all in this together.
To learn more about the actions CMS is taking to protect
Medicare beneficiaries visit:
While we cannot offer medical advice, we can answer your
questions about Medicare coverage.
888-411-7647 TTY: 711
to speak with a licensed insurance agent today.