News about the coronavirus has dominated headlines for weeks. Not surprising, since the United States hasn’t dealt with a pandemic since 1918. Unfortunately, a lot of the “news” out there is either outdated or was flat-out wrong to begin with. This post explains your Medicare coverage and answers some of the more common questions about coronavirus, aka COVID-19.
There are actually many types of coronaviruses, which originate in animals but may evolve to infect people. For example, there are four coronaviruses that cause the common cold. SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is also caused by a coronavirus.
The strain currently infecting humans and causing this pandemic is known as COVID-19.
Yes, Medicare Part B covers testing for coronavirus. You have no out-of-pocket costs for this service. Coverage includes any test received after February 4, 2020.
Related COVID-19 services covered by Medicare include:
If you’re preparing for quarantine or social distancing, you may also want to refill your prescriptions early. Talk to your Part D plan about any restrictions or limitations.
To qualify as a pandemic instead of an epidemic, a disease must spread rapidly across multiple regions. COVID-19 started as an epidemic, due to its isolation to China, but quickly spread to other countries.
The most common coronavirus symptoms are:
People may also experience painful or aching joints, headache, and a sore throat. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends seeking immediately medical attention if you experience any of the following:
It’s important to note that symptoms take anywhere from 2 to 10 days to manifest after contracting COVID-19. In addition, many people experience symptoms no more alarming than a mild cold. However, even if you are asymptomatic, you can still transmit the disease to others.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself and those you love is to educate yourself about coronavirus. Turn to reliable sources, such as the CDC or World Health Organization (WHO). Both organizations update information daily and provide a wide variety of educational materials on their websites.
Other steps to take include:
There is a lot of misinformation out there about COVID-19. Following are answers to some commonly asked questions.
No, surgical masks are not effective at blocking exposure to the virus. However, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, wearing a mask may help protect others.
It doesn’t look like it. Scientists gauge how infectious a disease is by how many people are likely to catch it from one infected person. COVID-19 patients infect an average of 2.2 people. People with the flu, however, only infect 1.3 people on average.
No, although there are four types of coronavirus that cause the common cold, this particular strain is different.
Not yet, but the CDC estimates they’ll have one in 12 to 18 months.
No, although you should still get vaccinated for both flu and pneumonia, since it helps protect your respiratory system.
Just like flu and the common cold, anyone can catch COVID-19; there is no age limit. Older people are more likely to experience severe symptoms, though. They also have a higher mortality rate than the general population.
This is one of the more consistent claims, because the number of people who die from the flu every year is relatively high. The CDC estimates that there were around 35.5 million cases of the flu during the 2018-2019 flu season. Of those, around 34,200 died. That’s a mortality rate of around 0.1 percent.
Experts still aren’t positive how many people die from COVID-19, because testing in the U.S. hadn’t been available. But estimates put the mortality rate at around 2 percent. That’s 20 times higher than the flu. And that’s the overall mortality rate. It’s much higher – around 18 percent – for people over age 70, those with respiratory issues, and anyone with a compromised immune system.
No, antibiotics do not work on viruses. There are no medications (to date) that cure COVID-19.
So far, people have contracted coronavirus all over the world – even in places where it’s warm like Australia.
Although climate doesn’t seem to play a role in transmitting COVID-19, some doctors do expect to see fewer cases as the weather gets warmer. However, they also predict the problem will be much worse in the fall, when flu season starts again.
There are UV lamps that offer disinfectant properties. But these kill bacteria, not viruses. You cannot protect yourself with ultraviolet light.
When it comes to protecting yourself against coronavirus, the power of education cannot be overstated. Rely on authoritative sources, like your local health department and the CDC. Verify everything you read. Share information from reputable sources.
Finally, stop the flow of misinformation by not sharing email chains and social media posts until you’ve confirmed that the information they share is valid.
After retiring from a career as an executive travel counselor in 2006, Donna Frederick embarked on a second career as a licensed insurance agent. During that first year, many clients told Donna how overwhelmed they felt by Medicare, but that her assistance helped them finally understand the Medicare program. That experience inspired Donna to focus her efforts on educating her clients to ensure they fully understand their Medicare options. Today, Donna takes pride in providing outstanding customer service and going the extra mile to make sure each client knows all of their options and has a sound understanding of their Medicare plan, from costs to coverage and all points in between.
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Last Updated 12/21/2018