Medicare Part B will cover the lab test to see if you have coronavirus but only when your doctor or other health care provider orders it. You will pay no out-of-pocket costs for these tests.
In addition, Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
While there’s currently no vaccine yet to protect against COVID-19, when one becomes available next year it too will be covered by all Medicare prescription drug plans Part D.
If you happen to get your Medicare benefits through a private Medicare Advantage plan, you will have access to these same benefits. Many Advantage plans are expanding coverage of telemedicine, which allows beneficiaries to consult with medical professionals without having to go to a doctor’s office. Check with your plan for coverage details.
Older adults, age 60 and older (especially those in their 70s and 80s), and people with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disease are at a higher risk of serious illness if they contract the coronavirus. Everyone in these categories should be vigilant.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.
If you develop any symptoms that are concerning, you should contact your primary-care provider by phone for guidance. If your doctor believes you need testing, he or she will instruct you on what to do. Unfortunately, there have been reports of test shortages across the country, so depending on where you live you may have to wait a few days.
To help you steer clear of COVID-19, the CDC recommends you avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
To the extent possible, try to avoid touching your face, nose and eyes. Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places like elevator buttons, door handles, handrails and handshaking with people. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces — tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cellphones.
You should also avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
The CDC recommends seniors and high-risk individuals stock up on supplies, such as extra medications and groceries. If there is an outbreak in your community, remain at home as much as possible. They also discourage non-essential travel.
For more information on the COVID-19, visit www.coronavirus.gov.