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Joe Theismann - NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Medicare Updates

UHC Announces Cost Waivers for Customers

UnitedHealthcare has announced $1.5B in actions and support to relieve challenges related to COVID-19. For members in UHC Medicare Advantage plans, this includes waived cost-sharing for specialist and primary care physician visits through September at least. Members with UHC AARP Medicare Supplement policies also have updated pricing and support.


CMS Announces COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period

To ensure as many people as possible are able to get the health coverage they need during this crisis, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have approved an emergency Special Enrollment Period for Medicare beneficiaries affected by the COVID-19 emergency. Eligible individuals who were unable to, and did not make an election during another valid election period, such as the Medicare Open Enrollment Period that ended March 31, 2020, may use this Special Enrollment Period to enroll or dis-enroll in Medicare plans. Read more


Humana Waives Medicare Advantage Out-of-Pocket Costs Through the End of 2020

In a May 5 press release, Humana announced effective May 1 they will waive all Medicare Advantage member cost-sharing—including copays, coinsurance, and deductibles—for in-network primary care, behavioral health and telehealth visits for the remainder of 2020. The company is also proactively delivering safety kits that include masks and health advice information to members’ homes.


CMS Publishes Video Explaining Medicare Telehealth Services

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a video explaining the temporary expansion of Medicare telehealth or virtual services. This video describes the types of visits that are covered, including where they can be held and which categories of healthcare providers can offer them. It also explains how telehealth and virtual visits will be billed for doctors, independent providers, nursing homes, and more.

You can find the Medicare Virtual Services video from CMS on the agency’s YouTube channel.


Humana & United HealthCare Waive Customer Cost-Sharing

Insurance companies Humana and United Healthcare have also announced waived costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. United Healthcare’s new policy, like Cigna’s, will last through May 31, 2020. Humana has not announced an ending date for this change to out-of-pocket costs.

These policies apply to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries with these insurance carriers, in addition to other types of plans.


Cigna Announces Waived Costs for COVID-19 Treatment

In a March 30 press release, Cigna announced that it will waive customer cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments through May 31, 2020. This announcement applies to Cigna’s Medicare Advantage Plans, as well as other types of plans.

This announcement follows previous Cigna commitments that waived cost-sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic tests, telehealth screenings, and more.


CMS Recommends Delaying Non-essential Procedures

CMS announced new recommendations on March 18 related to surgeries. Specifically, they recommend all elective, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures be delayed during the COVID-19 outbreak. This move is to help preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), beds, and ventilators, as well as free up healthcare workers to handle more urgent situations.


CMS Expands Telehealth Services Covered by Medicare

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on March 17 that extended telehealth services will be covered by Medicare. While previously telehealth was only covered in very limited cases, it is now open to a range of healthcare providers. Medicare beneficiaries can now receive telehealth services in any healthcare facility including a physician’s office, hospital, nursing home or rural health clinic, as well as their own homes. This expanded coverage includes office visits, preventive screenings, and mental health care.

Telehealth services will help Medicare beneficiaries who are practicing social distancing, self-isolating, or quarantined during this COVID-19 pandemic. It will also reduce the non-essential traffic to healthcare facilities, helping providers focus on critical cases.

Here are a few key points:

  • Patients and clinicians need a two-way visual and voice connection, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Telehealth visits are considered the same as in-person visits. Medicare pays the same amount for telehealth services as it would if the service were furnished in person.
  • Standard Medicare copays and deductibles apply. Healthcare providers have flexibility to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits.
  • Telehealth services aren’t limited to services related to patients with COVID-19.

For specific questions about your situation and using telehealth, talk to your healthcare provider.


CDC Recommends Against Gatherings of 50 or More People

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published new guidance on March 15 recommending that in-person gatherings of 50 people or more in the next eight weeks should be cancelled or postponed. This guidance does not directly apply to schools or businesses, although many of those have taken measures to suspend classes or move to remote work.

According to this guidance, smaller gatherings should only be held with appropriate preventative measures, such as proper sanitation, plenty of distance between participants, and following guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations.


CMS Provides Guidance for Nursing Homes

In a March 13 memo, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) recommended that nursing homes restrict visitors, reduce non-essential staff, and limit communal activities. These guidelines, though painful to follow, are designed to protect vulnerable residents from exposure to the deadly COVID-19 virus. Exceptions may be made for compassionate care, like end-of-life situations.

If you have any questions about the measures being taken to protect a loved one, contact their facility directly.


Walgreens Announces No-Fee Prescription Delivery

Following the example of CVS Health, Walgreens has announced that it will waive home delivery fees for prescriptions. These announcements are likely to assist individuals who are social distancing or self-quarantining as COVID-19 spreads.


Many Events Cancelled, Postponed

Most major sports leagues have announced cancellations or postponements, as have parades, conferences, concerts, theaters, and other events. A number of universities are moving to online instruction, and some K-12 schools have taken similar actions. Some workplaces are allowing employees to work remotely, although of course that’s not possible for everyone.

These actions can seem dramatic, but they’re part of a strategy called “social distancing.” Limiting the frequency and quantity of interaction may slow down the spread of a virus like COVID-19. Slowing the spread lightens the load on healthcare resources.


CMS Waives Restrictions on Part C & D Plans

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has waived restrictions on Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to allow coverage flexibility for COVID-19. In a March 10 press release, CMS indicated that insurance carriers can take measures such as:

  • Waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests
  • Waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments in doctor’s offices or emergency rooms and services delivered via telehealth
  • Removing prior authorizations requirements
  • Waiving prescription refill limits
  • Relaxing restrictions on home or mail delivery of prescription drugs
  • Expanding access to certain telehealth services

CVS Pharmacy Waives Home Delivery Fees

To assist with social distancing and quarantine efforts, CVS Health announced that it will waive delivery fees on all prescription medications.

Aetna, a CVS Health insurance company, has also announced that it will offer 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions for Medicare members.


United HealthCare Will Cover COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

United HealthCare announced on March 9, 2020 that it will waive all copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for COVID-19 diagnostic testing at approved locations.


Medicare Announces COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests Are Covered by Part B

In a March 3, 2020 post on medicare.gov, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will be covered under Part B. To be covered, the test must be ordered by your doctor or healthcare provider.


5 Facts About Coronavirus

Medicare & Coronavirus Facts

Understanding health threats and how you can respond to them is a critical part of healthcare. Here’s what you need to know about Medicare and the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Read more


Coronavirus: What Older Adults Need to Know

Chances are you’re reading daily news reports about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. While people of all ages are on heightened alert, older adults may be particularly concerned. Read on for a few important facts that older adults should know about the coronavirus.
Read more


Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

With a new illness like coronavirus spreading, it’s natural to have questions. Here are some of the common ones, with answers to help you stay informed and make confident decisions about your health.
Read more