Does Medicare Cover Coronavirus Testing?
Learn whether Medicare covers coronavirus testing and vaccines.
With thousands of Americans already infected with coronavirus and many more expected to come in the upcoming months, many people are closely monitoring this outbreak and what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes as, “an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.”
The current coronavirus spreading across the globe is known as COVID-19 or the 2019-novel coronavirus.
This official name came from the World Health Organization on February 11, 2020. The abbreviated name, COVID-19, is made up of the following parts: ‘CO’ for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ ‘D’ for ‘disease,’ and the ‘19’ represents the year 2019.
While coronaviruses are not a new phenomenon, this particular disease is caused by a new coronavirus not previously seen in humans.
Because this is a new and rapidly evolving situation, you may be wondering whether or not your health insurance covers COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
Here, we’ll look at the coverage that Medicare beneficiaries receive for COVID-19, as well as current recommendations from the CDC.
Does Medicare Cover Coronavirus Testing?
Yes, Medicare Part B covers coronavirus testing. This test can determine whether or not you have coronavirus (COVID-19).
Note, however, that the test is only covered if your doctor or healthcare provider has ordered it and you receive the test on or after February 4, 2020.
Medicare Part B covers coronavirus testing, as it covers all medically necessary clinical laboratory tests ordered by your doctor.
These laboratory tests might include blood tests, screening tests, tissue specimen tests, and urinalysis.
Typically, you do not have to pay anything for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests that are covered by Medicare.
Note, however, that in this case your provider must wait until after April 1, 2020 to submit a COVID-19 test claim to Medicare.
Will Medicare Cover a Coronavirus Vaccine?
Your Original Medicare coverage (Parts A and B) will not cover a COVID-19 vaccine should one become available.
While Medicare Part B does cover certain preventive vaccinations (like influenza and pneumococcal), as well as necessary vaccinations against microbial agents following likely exposure (such as tetanus toxin or Hepatitis A), Part B does not currently cover COVID-19.
However, for those Medicare beneficiaries that have Part D drug plans, a COVID-19 vaccine would be covered by your Part D plan should one become available. All Part D plan offerings would be required to cover the COVID-19 vaccine in this case.
Are Seniors at Higher Risk for Coronavirus?
While it is early and we do not yet have a complete profile on COVID-19, the early data from China where it started tells us that certain people have a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
Those people include older adults and individuals with serious chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.
If you fall into one of these categories, you are at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.
For this reason, it is extremely important that you take precautionary steps to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.
Tips for Preventing Coronavirus Exposure and Spread
Remember that currently there is no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). For this reason, the best way to prevent the virus is by avoiding exposure and engaging in preventive actions that mitigate spread. These preventive actions include:
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
Avoid touching your face, mouth, eyes, and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
Disinfect frequently touched household surfaces.
Avoid close contact with individuals that are sick.
Stay home if you are sick.
Visit your doctor or healthcare provider if you exhibit symptoms.
Should I Wear a Face Mask to Prevent Coronavirus?
If you have been following the news for coronavirus updates, you have likely seen individuals wearing face masks throughout the coverage. You may be wondering if you too should purchase and wear a face mask.
The CDC now recommends wearing a mask in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as a grocery store or pharmacy. This step is especially important in areas of significant community-based transmission.
If you show symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you wear a face mask to help prevent spread of the disease to others.
Note: Face masks are also crucial for healthcare workers and individuals that care for others in close settings, such as at home or a healthcare facility.
Watch for COVID-19 Symptoms
It’s important that you monitor your health and look for any development of COVID-19 symptoms, especially if you are an individual at higher risk. The COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
These symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure. If at any point it feels like you are developing symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor.
Treatment for COVID-19:
As there is currently no particular antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19, those individuals with COVID-19 are instructed to receive supportive care that will help to relieve the symptoms. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
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