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Medicare's New App Helps Seniors Get Healthcare Services Much Easier

February 21, 2019

Not sure if Medicare will cover a procedure you plan on getting? Calling the hotline or going to their office aren't your only options anymore, as all the information you need is now on the recently launched app, What’s Covered.

What’s Covered is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) digital solution for Medicare beneficiaries. It allows you to determine whether the program you are enrolled in will cover a medical item. Its minimalist interface is straightforward and easy to use, perfect for seniors and other people who aren’t particularly tech-savvy.

The app is primarily focused on Original Medicare, which is the service that applies to almost two-thirds of its beneficiaries. Original Medicare consists of Part A for hospitalization coverage, Part B for outpatient coverage, and an optional Part D Medigap supplemental and drug coverage. The remaining third have Medicare Advantage or Part C, which covers services including hearing aids.

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Modernization for the long-term

According to CMS’ press release, they made the app primarily for people with Original Medicare and for caregivers. Moreover, the app is equipped with Blue Button 2.0 functionality that enables beneficiaries to connect their claims information to private third-party tools like personal cloud storage. This will “help them understand, use, and share their health data.”

The launch of the app is part of the “eMedicare” efforts to modernize Medicare's services. This development strategy also includes an online price comparison tool that can be accessed from Medicare’s website. They also finished sending out new cards last January 16, which should reach all enrollees by April. The purpose of the updated cards is to improve security protocols by replacing Social Security numbers with a personalized Medicare number. Recent updates on their website, such as bigger fonts and a more intuitive interface, have also made it easier for members to access their account information online.

Continuous growth

Medicare beneficiaries are projected to balloon from 54 million to 80 million by 2030, and most of them could be internet literate. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 42% of Americans aged 65 and above use smartphones, and 70% use the internet. CMS also reveals coverage-related pages on get approximately 15 million page views per year, while 1-800 MEDICARE receives over 3 million coverage-related calls across the same time span. What’s Covered would be able to address this huge need while also ensuring that the information provided by the app will perfectly suit the user’s enquiries and needs.

The digitization of healthcare is an important factor in the continuing growth of the healthcare sector. It will inevitably lead to a need for more healthcare professionals who are well-versed in tech and innovating operations. Maryville University's market outlook on healthcare management indicates that there will be a 17% increase in demand for healthcare managers from 2014-2024. They state that a primary reason for this is because the industry gets constantly introduced to new technologies like Medicare's What's Covered, and consumers will always need highly skilled professionals at the other end of the healthcare delivery process. With apps like What’s Covered bridging the gap between providers and consumers, the industry can continue growing without sacrificing quality service because of increased efficiency and personalized experiences.

Seniors will be among the ones who benefit from these digitization efforts as it makes healthcare information more accessible, enabling them to craft personalized packages that address their unique needs.

About the Author

Gemima Brand is a data scientist who works with healthcare institutions and a freelance writer that covers topics mainly related to health and tech. She also volunteers in local health centers, and has a soft spot for the elderly as she spent most of his childhood with her grandma Judy.

Photo Credit: Trainer Academy