At the beginning of 2020, the novel coronavirus began spreading throughout the world, leading many countries to take extreme measures to reduce the number of people infected. The virus itself presents as a pneumonia-like disease that affects the respiratory system. Patients are have a pre-existing health condition, especially one that affects breathing, are more likely to experience severe symptoms.
In some cases, treatment at home and self-quarantining are the only things needed, but for individuals who have a compromised immune system or experience severe symptoms, hospitalization may be required. In early 2020, medical professionals are still working on a surefire treatment and vaccine protocol for coronavirus, but hospital treatment may be administered to reduce fever and keep airways open in patients who have experienced serious symptoms.
How Will Medicare Help If I’m Hospitalized With Coronavirus?
If you’re a Medicare recipient who finds yourself hospitalized due to coronavirus, you will still be able to enjoy the benefits that come along with Medicare Part A. This part of Medicare covers inpatient treatment while staying in a hospital or skilled nursing facility; however, there are time limits on coverage that can affect your financial liability.
Currently, Medicare benefits will apply toward the cost of a hospital stay for up to 90 days, and if hospitalization is required beyond this period, you may be able to use lifetime reserve days. These are days that are offered as part of your Medicare benefits that provide coverage at a reduced rate. These days are issued only once and can be used over the course of your lifetime if they are needed. Once these days are used up and your initial benefits have been processed, you will be responsible for the full cost of hospital care.
It should also be noted that Medicare only covers the cost of the hospital stay and treatment by the hospital’s medical staff. If a specialist is brought in from outside of the hospital to administer care, the specialist may bill separately. If this is the case, then Medicare Part B, or the outpatient benefit, may apply to the specialist’s services.
Medicare After Hospitalization
Once released from hospital care, coronavirus patients may still need medical assistance while recovering. This can come in the form of medications, follow-up visits with doctors, rehabilitation and further diagnostic screening services. Medicare recipients will once again be able to utilize their benefits for many of these services, including by using Medicare Part D for prescription drugs. Outpatient procedures and screenings will be covered by Medicare Part B, and if a stay in a skilled nursing facility is required during rehabilitation, then Medicare Part A would once again apply as long as the recipient has days remaining to use.
Coronavirus Safety and Prevention
Regardless of whether someone needs to spend time in a hospital or not, it’s a good idea to follow proper safety precautions to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Currently, precautionary measures that are recommended include washing hands on a regular basis throughout the day, maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others in social situations and wearing a protective mask if you need to be around people who are potentially carrying coronavirus. If you do feel that you have coronavirus and you require care at a hospital, you’re encouraged to call ahead to let medical staff know that you will be arriving so that additional safety steps can be taken to protect you and those around you during your time at a medical facility.