Health experts are warning that if the new coronavirus outbreaks get any worse, it could cripple our entire healthcare system.
In the last days of 2019, daily U.S. COVID deaths were up to around 3,633 deaths per day, more than the number of lives lost on 9/11/2001.
Many U.S. states are already at capacity and have been forced into treating patients inside gift shops, break rooms, administrative offices, and other non-hospital rooms for treatment. In Los Angeles County, which currently has more than 7,600 people hospitalized with 21 percent of those in intensive care, experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been called in to evaluate and upgrade oxygen delivery systems at several hospitals. The current infrastructure is not adequate to support the amount of oxygen needed by COVID-19 patients.
What’s at stake
“We are seeing people who have gathered for Thanksgiving, or who have gathered for other reasons (and) didn’t truly understand, even to this point, what was at stake,” said Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center (CNN).
And if hospitals are at capacity, what about other health emergencies that come up? With a shortage of hospital space as well as health care workers, Americans won’t be able to receive the care that they need if hospitals are full of COVID patients.
Currently, the states with the worst outbreaks are California, Arizona, and Rhode Island. States such as Arkansas, Georgia, and New York are experiencing record numbers of cases and hospitalizations. Who has the highest rate of COVID-19? See what cases look like in your state.
What Medicare covers for coronavirus
Medicare will cover all related lab tests for COVID-19 with no out-of-pocket costs owed.
Your Medicare plan will also cover any needed hospitalizations, such as if you have to stay in the hospital under quarantine if you are diagnosed.
Medicare is also expanding its telehealth options (meaning seeing a doctor or other healthcare professional over the phone, smartphone, or computer) during the COVID-19 outbreak. Medicare covers all of the costs for the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it covers all the services Medicare covers, plus possibly even more telehealth options.
What does Medicare cover for testing?
If you have Medicare or Medicaid coverage, both programs will cover the costs of coronavirus testing. You will pay nothing out of pocket. Medicare is paying between $36 to $51 per test.
Talk to your doctor and healthcare provider about the services you receive beforehand to avoid getting stuck with a hefty medical bill down the road.
How to get tested
Those who are uninsured may be able to get a free COVID-19 test in several different ways. You can visit an outpatient facility that is receiving relief funding and accepts Medicare. Another option to consider is going through Medicaid. States are able to use Medicaid to cover the costs of testing on uninsured residents who qualify.
Some may be able to get a free COVID-19 test through the National Disaster Medical System. The system treats patients and charges the federal government for the services administered.