Understanding all that Medicare offers can be confusing, as there are many benefits that many people may not know about, says Jeff Collins, a Medicare expert and vice president of government programs at MVP Health Care, a health insurance provider with locations in New York and Vermont. Here are four surprising benefits provided by Original Medicare specifically.
Telehealth services allow individuals to access medical or health services, such as psychotherapy or speech therapy, via audio or video communications without an in-person visit to a health care provider.
“Telemedicine services are designed to make health care more accessible whenever and wherever people need it,” says Collins.
Many telehealth appointments cost the same as in-person visits with health care professionals. However, specific costs depend on factors like:
- Other insurance a Medicare beneficiary may have, such as a Medigap policy
- The type of health care professional providing care
- How much a particular health care professional charges
- If the health care professional accepts Medicare as a type of insurance
- The type of facility in which a beneficiary receives care
- Where a beneficiary accesses medical services, tests and more
Tobacco Cessation Assistance
“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medicare Part B covers up to eight counseling sessions annually to help individuals stop smoking or using tobacco products. If a beneficiary’s health care provider accepts Medicare, the individual receives these counseling sessions at no cost.
Medical Services Outside the U.S.
Although Medicare generally doesn’t cover health care outside of the U.S. (which includes all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Guam; the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa), there are some exceptions, says Collins.
According the the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare Part B may cover care abroad in some circumstances, including:
- When a beneficiary lives in the U.S. but the foreign hospital is closer to their home than the nearest U.S. hospital (regardless of whether it is an emergency)
- When a beneficiary is in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat their medical needs in the event of a medical emergency
- When a beneficiary is traveling through Canada from Alaska directly to another U.S. state and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital in the event of a medical emergency
Chronic Disease Management Services
Medicare may cover some chronic disease management services for individuals who have at least two chronic conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis. This coverage may include the cost of a health care provider to create and manage a comprehensive care plan, which includes information like a diagnosis, medications, necessary care and coordination plans for care services between providers.