We live in unprecedented times. Each hour brings vital news about the serious health situation in our world, our country and our neighborhoods. As seniors coping with Coronavirus (COVID-19), our daily life has changed, and health matters are of utmost importance.

Yet with every challenge comes opportunity. With self-quarantining, there is time to handle matters that may need attention. This is the perfect time to review your Medicare coverage, and address questions about your health insurance coverage, claims, and prescription costs. Many of us prefer to have a meeting with our agent, but sequestering requires a different approach.

One strategy that can protect our health and provide answers about our medical insurance is remote and digital consultations with your Medicare agent. Medicare insurance carriers have advised agents to stop face to face visits and offer their clients a remote, digital platform in its place. For those newly eligible for Medicare, or for someone on Medicare with special circumstances, full information can be disseminated successfully without a person to person meeting. It’s easy to have a complete consultation with your agent and enroll in the plan of your choice.

If you are enrolling in a plan, the signature process is simple, even for the least tech savvy of us. Options include telephonic signatures, DocuSign type electronic signature procedures, and even a password you assign will stand in the place of your live signature. An added benefit of electronic enrollments done by your agent is faster processing of your application.

Sequestering isn’t forever, and you may have insurance items you need actioned. Your licensed Medicare agent stands ready and able to provide answers, information, and is able to enroll you remotely. It’s only a phone call away.

Leah Sugar Kari, Certified Medical Representative, and retired pharmaceutical representative, is a local, licensed life and health insurance broker specializing in showing Medicare eligible people their insurance options in Tucson. Reach Leah for comments at (520) 484-3807 or email leahkari4@gmail.com. (TTY users dial 711.)


COVID-19 and You

You’re doing the good stuff—social distancing, vigorous hand washing, and staying at home to do your part in halting the progression of the COVID-19 virus. As partners in your health care, Medicare and your insurance plan are providing important assistance to its beneficiaries in the face of the pandemic.

When a vaccine’s available for COVID-19, it will be covered by all Medicare prescription drug plans. Medicare will waive any cost sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Medicare will cover all medically necessary hospitalizations. If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are hospitalized, Medicare will cover your stay if you must stay quarantined in the hospital, where under routine circumstances you would have been discharged.

Telehealth, the ability to access healthcare remotely through telephone, smart phone, or computer, is expanded to provide access to physicians and care. This expansion is temporary for Medicare beneficiaries that do not have a telemedicine benefit as part of their health plan. You’ll speak to a doctor, have prescriptions issued, and receive other services that are part of a routine doctor’s office visit for a reasonable charge. Medicare Advantage plans may have a telehealth benefit for an affordable copay or coinsurance as part of their plan. This benefit may allow a mental health telemedicine component, helpful indeed in these challenging times.

Your plan may provide 24/7 access to a registered nurse line. Speaking to a nurse may be very helpful to you, and this feature is provided as a plan benefit offered at cost. Your plan’s fitness benefit may allow to you receive at home exercise equipment or telephonic health coaching.

All drug plan offers mail order pharmacy and your drugs will be sent to you with no shipping cost. Lastly, many Advantage plans offer an “over the counter” health and wellness products also shipped to you at no cost. Placing an order is a simple matter of a telephone call or ordering items online. Call your plan’s customer service line or your agent to receive more details on your plan’s benefits and how to access them.

We’re sequestered, but we’re smart. We have rich resources at our fingertips, and at no cost. Here are some phone numbers and websites for you: Medicare--Medicare.gov 1 800 MEDICARE (1 800 633 4227) TTY: 771, the Centers for Disease Control-- CDC.gov 1 800 CDC INFO (1 800 232 4636) TTY: 771 and the National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center--NAMI.gov at 1 866 615 6464: TTY 1 301 443 8431 or TTY Toll Free 1 866 415 8051.

Leah Sugar Kari, Certified Medical Representative, and retired pharmaceutical representative, is a local, licensed life and health insurance broker specializing in showing Medicare eligible people their insurance options in Tucson. Reach Leah for comments at (520) 484-3807 or email her at leahkari4@gmail.com. (TTY users dial 711.)