Does Medicare Coverage Apply to COVID-19 Treatment?

The federal government has announced that the treatment will be available with no cost-sharing for patients. Understand current Medicare coverage, and how it applies to COVID-19 treatment payments.

Money Talks News’s recent article entitled “Medicare to Cover New Coronavirus Treatment” says that treatments in settings such as a doctor’s office, nursing home, or infusion center will now be covered without cost-sharing for those with Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors and people with certain disabilities.

This COVID-19 coverage (which started on November 10) is for monoclonal antibody infusions in facilities where “safety precautions can be met,” according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS.

This coverage includes having access to medications that can treat anaphylaxis and other severe infusion reactions.

The day before the CMS announcement, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for an investigational monoclonal antibody therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in patients at high risk for becoming severely ill, and/or who are likely to require hospitalization. It’s called bamlanivimab.

The CMS announcement is the most recent expansion of Medicare coverage to help treat the disease.

Medicare and private insurance will also pay for any coronavirus vaccine that is approved early.

Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance to Americans. It’s frequently called Original Medicare. It has two parts—Part A and Part B. Part A covers inpatient hospital and skilled nursing care, and Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient care.

Private Medicare plans are optional and provide more coverage. Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Part C) combine Part A and Part B coverage and may have drug coverage and other benefits you don’t receive with Original Medicare.

Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D) help pay for medications. Seniors can buy a standalone Part D plan or get a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage.

Medicare supplement insurance or “Medigap” helps pay some or all costs not paid by Original Medicare, such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

Reference: Money Talks News (Nov. 12, 2020) “Medicare to Cover New Coronavirus Treatment”

Is Your Estate Plan COVID-19-Ready?

 

Even if you have done comprehensive estate planning with the guidance of a qualified attorney, you may want to re-evaluate certain elements of your plan now, through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Reviewing your estate plan with an attorney will provide guidance and piece of mind that your affairs are in order.

Why make changes? There are two uniquely challenging aspects of this pandemic that your current plan may not adequately address.

  1. Medical treatment for severe cases of COVID-19 frequently involves intubation and ventilator therapy to combat respiratory failure, and
  2. Quarantine and isolation orders blocking hospital visitors create some communication barriers between patients, doctors and family members.

So, how might these unique challenges impact your estate plan?

Living Wills. If your living will contains a blanket prohibition on intubation, you may want to reconsider that decision.

Durable Powers of Attorney (DPOA). Given the communication difficulties that may arise when a patient is hospitalized during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may want to revisit the terms of your DPOA to make it easier for your agent to act on your behalf.

Health Care Power of Attorney. A health care power of attorney allows you to appoint someone else to act as your agent for medical decisions. Under normal circumstances, this person would likely confer with your attending physicians in person and again, these in-person communications may be difficult right now. You want to add language to expressly authorize electronic communication with your agent.

The attorneys of the Law Office of Michael T. Huguelet, P.C. focus primarily in this area of the law and can advise you on whether your current estate plan accurately represents your wishes during this uniquely challenging time.  Our offices are open and ready to assist you with preparing a new estate plan or tailoring an update to your estate plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resource: ElderLawAnswers, Three Changes You May Want to Make to Your Estate Plan Now Due to the Pandemic, April 30, 2020