By Greg Dill
Let's say you go for your annual physical and your doctor recommends you get a hearing and balance test, 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: Medicare's new What's Covered app. You can use the free app 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 such as flu shots and cancer and diabetes screenings.
What's Covered is Medicare's first app created to meet the needs of the growing population of people with Medicare, which 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 and Medicaid Services, receives. In fact, there are about 15 million page views annually for coverage-related content on Medicare.gov, and (800) MEDICARE receives more than three million coverage-related calls each year.
If you're reading this on your mobile device, you can get the app directly from the Apple App Store or Google Play buttons below:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.medicare.coverage,
Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/whats-covered/id1444143600.
The What's Covered app 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:
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.
Greg Dill is Medicare's regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).