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Telehealth Services Covered by Medicare

03/23/2020 —

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency, doctors and other health care providers started using telehealth services to treat COVID-19 as of March 6, 2020. As long as you have seen the health care provider, or another health care provider from the same practice, for an in-person consultation, Medicare will pay 100% of the cost for COVID-19 telehealth consultations with that provider.

What it is: Telehealth, also called telemedicine, provides access to board-certified physicians for minor medical concerns via telephone or live, online video consultation from your home, office, nursing home, assisted living facility, or a hospital.

It saves time and you get the care you need without having to schedule a doctor’s appointment or be exposed to other sick people while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room.

How it works. Call your doctor to find out what your telehealth options are. You will need access to the internet and a computer, tablet or smart phone device. It may also require you to register, download software, or an app to your device. Telehealth services use the same kind of technology as video chat services such as FaceTime or Skype. However, it uses secure, HIPAA-compliant technology and procedures. During your consultation, you can see the doctor and the doctor can see you.

What it costs. Medicare will cover a telehealth consultation as long as you have had a prior in-person office visit with the health care provider or another provider in the same office.

Other times when telehealth makes sense. Telehealth consultations are not intended to treat all types of medical issues. Use telehealth for minor medical issues such as:   

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • A fever
  • A mild rash or skin inflammation
  • Sore throat or allergies
  • If you need to speak with a doctor outside normal office hours and otherwise would consider a visit to your primary care physician or an urgent care center.

Important: Telehealth is not a replacement for emergency services. If you need emergency care, always call 911.

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