retirement

Medicare Now Covers Telehealth, Thanks to This Pandemic

Many private health insurers have offered telehealth for several years, but Medicare lagged behind covering the service.

In March 2020, Washington gave telehealth a shot in the arm by bending long-standing Medicare reimbursement rules for physicians and other health care professionals who use technology to remotely examine and treat Medicare patients at home.

The Trump administration now allows Medicare to reimburse doctors for telehealth at the same rate as office visits. The idea is to motivate doctors to use telehealth to care for patients and not invite them into medical offices and hospitals that may be brimming with those suffering from the highly contagious coronavirus.

Telehealth was already an option allowed by many private Medicare Advantage plans, which are alternatives to traditional Medicare. The five biggest insurers selling Medicare Advantage plans, which serve about one-third of Medicare’s more than 60 million beneficiaries, have offered telehealth for several years.

Traditional Medicare, on the other hand, set strict limits for where and when telehealth would be covered. Until 2019, Medicare paid for telehealth services only if they included both audio and video interactions between patient and provider. Even then, the coverage was often limited to rural areas, and the patient had to already be in a Medicare-approved facility, not at home.

After Congress eased some of the restrictions, patients can now be at home to consult with doctors and other medical specialists using telehealth.

However, Medicare beneficiaries aren't afforded any price breaks for virtual visits, for which they currently pay 20% of the doctor’s fee on top of a deductible. “For most telehealth services,” the agency said on its web page for fees, “you’ll pay the same amount that you would if you got the services in person.”

Most Popular

When Could We Get a Third Stimulus Check?
Coronavirus and Your Money

When Could We Get a Third Stimulus Check?

President Biden and others in Congress are pushing for a third-round of stimulus checks, but it might be a while before we get them.
January 20, 2021
Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer
Coronavirus and Your Money

Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer

The IRS has an online tool that lets you track the status of your second stimulus check.
January 18, 2021
20 Best Stocks to Buy for the Joe Biden Presidency
stocks to buy

20 Best Stocks to Buy for the Joe Biden Presidency

Joe Biden has been sworn in as America's 46th president. These are 20 of the best stocks to own under the new administration.
January 20, 2021

Recommended

12 Ways the Biden Stimulus Package Could Put (or Keep) Money in Your Pocket
Coronavirus and Your Money

12 Ways the Biden Stimulus Package Could Put (or Keep) Money in Your Pocket

President Biden's "American Rescue Plan" includes several proposals to assist people financially harmed by the pandemic.
January 20, 2021
A Retiree’s Guide to Key Dates in 2021
Basics

A Retiree’s Guide to Key Dates in 2021

It's critical -- and financially sound -- to hit these important financial deadlines spaced throughout the year.
January 8, 2021
What You'll Pay for Medicare in 2021
Healthy Living on a Budget

What You'll Pay for Medicare in 2021

For Medicare premiums 2021, look for modest increases in premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
December 16, 2020
Medicare Mania: Some Basics to Know During Open Enrollment
Medicare

Medicare Mania: Some Basics to Know During Open Enrollment

What’s Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D and what do they cover? What are Medicare Advantage plans? And how about the deadlines involved? There’s a lo…
November 21, 2020