Does Medicare Cover Telehealth?
Medicare covers telehealth and telemedicine, but there may be coverage limits and coinsurance costs you should know about. Learn more about Medicare telehealth and find out ways to save on your costs.
The COVID-19 pandemic not only impacted individuals, but it also affected the way businesses run. Many companies are offering remote work or hybrid schedules where employees only work minimally in the office or completely from home. Along with this, box chains are offering more shipping services providing no-contact purchasing to their customers like Walmart+ who delivers groceries to your door without you ever having to step into their physical store.
But those are not the only things that have changed due to the global pandemic. The medical industry had to pivot in order to see their patients safely without risk of spreading the virus. Thus, telehealth was created to give patients the chance to communicate with their doctor through video chats and other telecommunications. Many appreciated being able to receive medical diagnoses from the comfort of their home without further risk of infection. Doctors have seen benefits through telehealth, including ease in seeing patients, scheduling follow-up appointments and identifying health risks in a patient’s home environment.1 These strong, positive benefits means that telehealth is here to stay in the modern world which leads to the question: does Medicare cover telehealth?
The Rise of Telehealth
The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study to determine how many Medicare beneficiaries had access to primary care physicians who offered telehealth. What they discovered was two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries stated that their primary care physician offered telehealth appointments.2 One in four of those who said their physician offered telehealth stated they utilized this benefit during the summer or fall of 2020.2
With telehealth growing in popularity and with it being accessible to many Medicare beneficiaries, it is important to know if these benefits are covered by certain Medicare plans.
Does Medicare Cover Telehealth?
Medicare Part B, which all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in, does cover some telehealth services. However, beneficiaries are required to pay their Part B deductible first, then pay 20% of the total cost of telehealth services.3 In many cases, this costs about as much as an in-person medical appointment. Yet many would prefer medical consultations online rather than in-person, making the no difference in cost a minimal factor for consideration.
- According to Medicare.gov, covered telehealth services include:
- Online counseling
- Prescription management
- Urgent care issues
- Post-surgical follow-up
- Treatment of recurring conditions, like migraines or urinary tract infections
- Treatment of skin conditions
- Lab test or X-ray result consultations3
Yet, those who would prefer their Medicare plan to cover a larger amount of telehealth benefits should consider a Medicare Supplement plan. Certain Medicare Supplement plans offer more telehealth benefits coverage, making it easier and more cost-effective for their beneficiaries.
To compare Medicare Supplement plans and see which offers the best benefits for telehealth, go to www.medicaresupplement.com or call a licensed insurance agent today to discuss various plans and coverage options for your budget.
Will Telehealth Always be Covered by Medicare?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been expansions and additional coverage provided to telehealth expenses under Medicare plans. Most recently, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 offered a 151 day extension to the telehealth coverage provided by Medicare.4 This act states that these expansions will remain in place for another five months after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Currently, the public health emergency ends in October of this year, yet could be extended again by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If it ends in October 2022, that means the telehealth expansions under Medicare would end five months later. However, if the public health emergency gets extended, the five months would not be enacted. Although the window on additional telehealth coverage under Medicare may be closing, it is still a viable benefit for many Medicare beneficiaries for several months to come.
Telehealth is a modern feature of medicine that allows patients to video call their primary care physician or consultants to receive medical attention and diagnoses while skipping the waiting room entirely. Many on Medicare have grown accustomed to this benefit and may be wondering if telehealth will continue to be covered as the world returns to normal. The answer is that Medicare Part B does cover some telehealth benefits after the deductible and with a standard 20% copayment, yet Medicare supplement plans may be able to go a step further. To capitalize on these benefits, research Medicare supplement plans today!
Compare Medigap plans in your area.Find a plan
Or call now to speak with a licensed insurance agent:
1 Health - Benefits of Telemedicine. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2022. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/benefits-of-telemedicine.
2 Medicare - Medicare and Telehealth: Coverage and Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Options for the Future. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2021. https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-and-telehealth-coverage-and-use-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-and-options-for-the-future/.
3 Your Medicare Coverage - Telehealth. Medicare. 2022. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth.
4 Medicare - FAQs on Medicare Coverage of Telehealth. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2022. https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/faqs-on-medicare-coverage-of-telehealth/.