At the outset of 2020, the novel coronavirus started spreading across the world. In response, many countries, states and municipalities took swift action to mitigate this spread by issuing stay-at-home orders and closing a number of government facilities. This reaction, however, took place so quickly that many people, including in those America, were left in the dark regarding what was open and what was closed.
Is Medicare Open During the Coronavirus Closures?
As of April 2020, federal government agencies continue to operate during the coronavirus closures, but some changes may have been made to how services are rendered. Medicare is open to service program recipients during the coronavirus pandemic, but office hours may be limited or services may only be available online or over the phone. If you need to work with someone from Medicare regarding your plan benefits or you have a question about a claim or medical service, your best bet would be to reach out via telephone during regular business hours to speak with a representative. You could also contact Medicare online through the program’s website to request contact from a representative.
Can You Still Use Medicare Benefits During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
If you are a Medicare recipient, you can still utilize your benefits for medical care during the coronavirus outbreak of 2020. Medicare part A still applies toward hospital care and care at a skilled nursing facility, Medicare Part B still applies to outpatient care for doctor visits and diagnostic services and Medicare Part D still applies to prescription drugs picked up from a retail pharmacy. With this stated, you may need to adjust your expectations regarding availability of services during times of higher-than-normal need for medical care. Wait times may be longer to schedule routine appointments, and pharmacy hours may be adjusted during a time of crisis to allow staff to sanitize areas and provide safer contact with customers.
If You Suspect You Have Coronavirus
Whether you receive Medicare benefits or not, if you suspect that you have coronavirus and you need to seek out medical care, it is best to contact your healthcare provider before arriving for your appointment to let him or her know of your symptoms. This will not only allow your healthcare provider to have the right safety measures in place to protect you and offer a rapid response, but you will also be doing your part in preventing the spread of coronavirus should you test positive.
Before arriving, you may also want to reach out to Medicare via phone or the Internet to ensure that you understand the benefits of your particular plan. These benefits should not change based on having coronavirus or any other type of medical ailment, but you will want to know things like how many days you have left that are available for hospital care should you need to be admitted, what drugs related to coronavirus are covered under your plan if you need a prescription and which care facilities in your area are approved by Medicare to offer covered services.
Planning ahead, when possible, can help you to avoid surprise billing later. Of course, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, you should call 911 right away to receive care as quickly as possible.