What is Telehealth? Many medical plans have a medical telephone service that will allow you to talk directly to a doctor or a Nurse Practitioner (NP). These calls can save you a trip to the doctor’s office, Urgent Care center, or hospital Emergency Room. This is especially helpful if you are sick or injured and can’t drive.

As with any serious injury, your safest bet is to call 911 for an ambulance in dire situations.

Medicare-qualified Telehealth services include office visits, psychotherapy, consultations, and certain other medical or health services that are provided by an eligible provider who isn’t at your location using an interactive 2-way telecommunications system (like real-time audio and video). **

Medicare Part B covers some aspects of Telehealth. Usually, 80% after any deductibles are met. If you have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap), your supplement normally covers the balance of the bill.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, a co-pay could be required just like an office visit. On some Medicare Advantage plans the Telehealth call could be at no co-pay and are provided free of charge. Check your Outline of Coverage or Summary of Benefits for details on your specific plan.

A word of caution for those of you that live in rural areas. You may need to be at a health facility in order to have access to the Telehealth benefit. These locations are doctor’s offices, hospitals, critical access hospitals, rural health clinics, federally-qualified health centers, hospital-based dialysis facilities, skilled nursing facilities, or a community health center.

As of 2019, many Medicare Advantage plans are allowing more access directly from your home. These plans may offer more Telehealth options than Original Medicare.