Medicare and Me: Medicare mobile and online apps

Leah Sugar Kari, CMR Certified Medical Representative and Independent Senior Health Insurance Broker

Today’s Medicare eligible or Medicare beneficiaries want information about Medicare’s coverage, and they want it now. Medicare has launched the Medicare “What’s Covered” mobile application to download to your smart phone. Available at your Apple App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android users, the Medicare “What’s Covered” app makes it easy to see if a procedure, lab test or particular vaccine is covered by Medicare. As an example, this is helpful if you are contemplating receiving the shingles vaccine and wonder if Medicare will pay its share. A quick entry such as “shingles shot” typed into the search window titled “Is my item or service covered” provides a quick and clear answer at your fingertips. At the bottom of the screen you have the opportunity to browse other useful items and services, such as preventive tests that Medicare covers.

Have you misplaced your red, white, and blue Medicare card? Another mobile app, myMedicare.gov is an easy to use and handy app to have on your smart phone. Note: If you haven’t set up this account in Medicare.gov, you’ll want to go online first to create your “My Medicare” account. It won’t take long and you’ll be surprised at the information you’ll be able to access. Once you’ve established your account online, you are ready to download the mobile app. This useful tool will let you view or print your Medicare card, a helpful feature if your provider is requesting a copy of your card and you do not carry it. There is important and helpful information about your current Medicare prescription drug plan, or Medicare Advantage plan, and claims information. This could be handy at the doctor’s office when you must prove payment already made for a procedure, for myMedicare.gov will also have your explanation of benefits available to settle a payment dispute.

While not a mobile application, the “Procedure Price Lookup” tool located on the online Medicare.gov website is an interesting site to check out. If you are facing a certain procedure, you may ask your provider for the actual procedure code to enter into the online tool. This will compare the costs and copays that Medicare allows for inpatient or hospital-based procedures versus the same procedure performed in an ambulatory surgical center setting. This tool has received mixed reviews for its accuracy, but it is a step toward more transparency in healthcare costs.

Access these easy to use tools. They’re designed to take the mystery out of Medicare benefits and put you in the driver’s seat in making the most of your healthcare.

Leah Sugar Kari, Certified Medical Representative and retired pharmaceutical representative, is a local, licensed life and senior health insurance broker specializing in Medicare insurance options in Tucson. Reach Leah for comments at 520-484-3807 or email [email protected] (TTY users dial 711.)