Column | Free app shows what Medicare covers
Let’s say you go for your annual physical and your doctor recommends that you get a hearing and balance test. Or an electrocardiogram (EKG). Or a Hepatitis B screening.
Does your Original Medicare cover these services? Now there’s a quick way to find out, using your smartphone or tablet.
It’s Medicare’s new “What’s Covered” app and it’s free. You can use the app right there in the doctor’s office, hospital, or anywhere else you use your phone or tablet.
The app displays general cost, coverage and eligibility details for medical items and services covered by Medicare Part A and Part B. You can search or browse to learn what’s covered and not covered; how and when to get covered benefits; and basic cost information.
You can also get a list of Medicare-covered preventive health services, like flu shots and cancer and diabetes screenings.
“What’s Covered” is available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. Search for “What’s covered” or “Medicare” and download the app to your phone. Once “What’s Covered” is installed, you can use it to get reliable Medicare information even when you don’t have access to your computer.
“What’s Covered” is Medicare’s first app. It was created to meet the needs of the growing population of people with Medicare. That population is projected to increase from nearly 56 million beneficiaries in 2016 to more than 80 million beneficiaries in 2030 – almost 50 percent.
About two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries use the Internet daily or almost daily, and questions about what Medicare covers are some of the most frequent inquiries that my agency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, receives.
There are about 15 million page views annually for coverage-related content on Medicare.gov and 1-800 MEDICARE receives more than 3 million coverage-related calls each year.
Easy access to accurate, reliable Medicare coverage information is just one new feature of the eMedicare initiative, launched in 2018 to empower beneficiaries with cost and quality information. Other tools in the eMedicare suite include:
• Enhanced interactive online decision support to help people better understand and evaluate their Medicare coverage options and costs between Medicare and Medicare Advantage (https://www.medicare.gov/medicarecoverageoptions/).
• A new online service that lets people quickly see how different coverage choices will affect their estimated out-of-pocket costs (https://www.medicare.gov/oopc/).
• New price transparency tools that let consumers compare the national average costs of certain surgical procedures between settings, so people can see what they’ll pay for procedures done in a hospital outpatient department versus an ambulatory surgical center (https://www.medicare.gov/procedure-price-lookup/).
• A new webchat option in the Medicare Plan Finder (https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx).
• New easy-to-use surveys across Medicare.gov so consumers can continue to tell us what they want.
The eMedicare initiative expands and improves on current consumer service options. People with Medicare will continue to have access to paper copies of the “Medicare & You” handbook and Medicare Summary Notices.
And by the way, Medicare does indeed cover hearing and balance tests, EKGs, and Hepatitis B screenings.