By Jim Miller, Special to the Star-Advertiser
Dear Savvy Senior: Does Medicare cover telehealth services? My 71-year-old mother has chronic Type 2 diabetes but is concerned about going to the doctor for fear of exposing herself to the new coronavirus. What can you tell us? — Avoiding the Doctor
Dear Avoiding: Yes! Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Medicare recently announced that it will be expanding coverage for telehealth services to help keep vulnerable seniors safe at home. Here’s what you and your mom should know.
If you’re not familiar with telehealth or telemedicine services, they are full visits with a health care provider who isn’t at your location using telephone or video technology device — i.e. smartphone, tablet or computer.
Telehealth services allow Medicare beneficiaries to take care of ongoing medical problems as well as new concerns, while following public health advice to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak.
Medicare patients with chronic health conditions now don’t have to postpone a regular follow-up visit with the doctor to keep safe. They can do it via Skype or FaceTime. And people concerned they might have the virus could see their doctor or nurse practitioner virtually to find out how to get tested. Nursing home residents will also be able to have telehealth consultations with their doctors.