Public Benefits Outreach Program (PBO)

Medicare COVID-19 Important Update

Medicare has released information on covered service for COVID-19. If you have question in regards to how and if Medicare will pay for test and treatment of COVID-19. Currently below are some items that are important to know.

  • Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs .
  • Medicare 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.
  • At this time, there’s no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits beyond the ones described below. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.

Telehealth & related services

President Trump Expands Telehealth Benefits for Medicare Beneficiaries During  COVID-19 Outbreak

Medicare covers “virtual check-ins” so you can connect with your doctor by phone or video, or even an online patient portal, to see whether you need to come in for a visit. If you’re concerned about illness and are potentially contagious, this offers you an easy way to remain at home and avoid exposure to others.

  • You may be able to communicate with your doctors or certain other practitioners without necessarily going to the doctor’s office in person for a full visit. Medicare pays for “virtual check-ins”—brief, virtual services with your established physician or certain practitioners where the communication isn’t related to a medical visit within the previous 7 days and doesn’t lead to a medical visit within the next 24 hours (or soonest appointment available).
  • You need to consent verbally to using virtual check-ins and your doctor must document that consent in your medical record before you use this service. You pay your usual Medicare coinsurance and deductible for these services.
  • Medicare also pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals without going to the doctor’s office. Like the virtual check-ins, you must initiate these individual communications.
  • If you live in a rural area, you may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. The law requires that these visits take place at specified sites of service, known as telehealth originating sites, and get services using a real-time audio and video communication system at the site to communicate with a remotely located doctor or certain other types of practitioners. Medicare pays for many medical visits through this telehealth benefit.

Coronavirus test – Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers a test to see if you have coronavirus (officially called 2019-novel coronavirus or COVID-19). This test is covered when your doctor or other health care provider orders it, if you got the test on or after February 4, 2020. Your costs in Original Medicare. You usually pay nothing for Medicare-covered clinical diagnostic laboratory tests.

  • Your provider will need to wait until after April 1, 2020 to be able to submit a claim to Medicare for this test.

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Elderly Scams

Current scams that have been reported:

Scammers calling seniors identifying themselves from the medical community claiming to have a vaccine for COVID-19 and having a limited supply to create urgency.  They instruct the senior to provide an over the phone payment.

  • Impostors posing as Red Cross workers are going door to door offering test kits in exchange for Medicare and personal information.
  • Scammers calling seniors claiming their loved ones are infected with COVID-19 with no health insurance.  An over the phone payment is needed for them to receive treatment.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warning letters to seven companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 products.  These products are unapproved drugs that pose significant risks to patient health and violate federal law.
  • Scammers are setting up websites to sell bogus products and use fake emails, malicious email attachments, text messages, and social media to take their money and steal personal information. The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your community. They also may be asking you to donate to victims or offer advice on unproven treatments, etc.

Here are some tips to keep the scammers away:

  •  Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
  • Make sure your information is coming from a reliable source and website.  Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it!
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

Be safe, if you have any questions about elder scams and prevention tips.  Please contact the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. – Area Agency on Aging (ITCA-AAA), Region 8.  We have a dedicated State Health Insurance Assistance Program(SHIP)/Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Team that can assist with your inquiries and scam complaints.

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Arizona State Health Insurance Assistance Program

Help line  

1-800-432-4040

(Select Option #2)

Do you have question regarding:

  • Medicare?
  • Part A (Hospital Insurance)? Part B (Medical Insurance)? Part C (Medicare Advantage)?  Medicare Drug Prescription Plan (Part D)?
  • Medicaid (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System)?
  • Social Security?
  • Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS)?
  • Veterans Benefits?
  • Indian Health Service (IHS)?
  • Appeals?
  • Other types of Health Insurance and Public Benefits?

The Arizona Health Insurance Assistance Program can help you:

  • Determining what benefit one may be entitled to and guiding them through the process
  • Educating community members, elders, caregivers and people with disabilities about Public Benefits through community forums or one-on-one counseling
  • Appeals process with Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid
  • Educating community about Medicare fraud and abuse

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The Public Benefits Outreach (PBO) Project is a component of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., Area Agency on Aging, which serves 21 tribes in Arizona. PBO is a free health benefits education and counseling service for tribal elderly and people with disabilities. PBO works to educate, advocate, counsel, and empower elders and people with disabilities to make informed health care and benefits decisions. In addition, the PBO project trains volunteers on public benefits to counsel and advocate for elders and people with disabilities.The Public Benefits Outreach Project works closely with the Arizona State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) under the Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services.

Tribal Benefits Counselors

  • Counselors are trained in Public Benefits to provide accurate, objective, and confidential counseling to clients.
  • PBO and counselors work together to provide counseling services and presentations in Tribal communities.

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Upcoming Training & Events

ALL TRAINING ARE CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!

* For more information contact:

Stephanie Barehand, Public Benefits / Independent Living Support Specialist
Area Agency on Aging, Region 8
Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.
p: 602.258.4822 | f: 602.258.4825
e: stephanie.barehand@itcaonline.com

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