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Does Medicare cover online doctor visits?

Online doctors visits for Medicare beneficiaries

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Medicare Part B is the coverage responsible for your doctor visits. Especially in light of the current health pandemic, Medicare has made telehealth more available as a service and precautionary measure to keep everyone safe and socially distanced. Listed in the Medicare’s directory as E-visits and telehealth services, these allow patients to talk to their healthcare provider over the phone or virtually with a phone, tablet, or computer.

You owe 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for E-visits, virtual check-ins, and telehealth, and the Part B deductible applies.

E-visits

In general, Medicare Part B covers E-visits using an online patient portal.  These visits can be made with the following practitioners: doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and in specific circumstances, licensed clinical social workers and clinical psychologists. 

Communication through the use of online patient portals needs to be initiated by the patient to confirm consent. 

Telehealth

Telehealth offerings include office visits, psychotherapy, consultations, and medical services that are provided by an eligible provider who is not at your location. These are conducted through real-time conversations over video communication.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare has expanded its telehealth services. To consent to these services, you need only verbally consent with your doctor or healthcare provider. Importantly, you can also conduct these visits for the treatment of COVID-19 from offices, hospitals, and your residence, including at home or at your nursing home or assisted living facility.

With the new offerings, you can have telehealth at renal dialysis centers. Telehealth is also being used for faster diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment of symptoms of an acute stroke. You can also get telehealth services at home for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders.

Virtual Check-ins

With the expanded coverage, you can now have virtual check-ins: these are phone conversations with your healthcare provider that are not within seven days of an appointment and do not lead to an appointment within the next 24 hours. Your coinsurance and deductible will apply to these visits. 

You can also have these visits at rural health clinics and federally qualified health clinics. You can have full visits with your healthcare provider through the use of technology. For those who do not have audio-visual devices or smartphones, you can conduct check ins with your doctor using audio only, over the phone.

The innovation of this service is the use of captured video images to fully communicate with your healthcare provider while apart. You can conduct a check-in over the phone, with an audio visit, through secure text messages, over email, or by using a patient portal.
For more information about virtual doctor visits and how Medicare can provide coverage, reach out to an agent today.

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