Medicare is expanding coverage for telehealth sessions for seniors, many of whom are waiting for long-term care

Medicare has decided to extend coverage for telehealth services to eligible beneficiaries.

Telehealth covers a host of services that provide seniors with expert help through video chat, including screenings for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

To qualify for telehealth services, Medicare requires beneficiaries to have a Certified Aides program, a program that provides basic personal care to someone who is living independently but needs help in keeping up with basic living tasks, such as bathing and getting dressed.

Medicare will also now cover educational sessions focused on high-risk conditions. Beneficiaries who participate in a telehealth session will receive information about the specifics of these conditions and will be assisted in keeping up with clinical recommendations.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services , announced the decision to offer coverage for telehealth services to more than 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries. To qualify for services, the Federal Register states, seniors must:

Continue to fulfill the requirements of the certified aides program in order to obtain access to telehealth services, the decision continues.

The decision expands availability of telehealth coverage to those 55 and older.

Doctors are also aware of the coverage option — Federal Claims, Inc., for example, began a program designed for Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit participants who qualify for telehealth services. According to Francine Wing, a co-founder of the program, “Telehealth applications are increasingly being used by our Partners (managed care organizations), and we encourage our Partners to initiate the telehealth visit to take advantage of the newly-expanded coverage.”

This extension of coverage from Medicare could serve as a boon for America’s elderly: An estimated 1.2 million people are currently waiting for long-term care.

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