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Medicare App Enables Patients to Check Coverage of Medical Services, Items


What’s Covered is the latest digital push by CMS to foster patient empowerment.

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Medicare recipients have a new high-tech tool at their fingertips. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today released What’s Covered, a mobile app that enables beneficiaries to check which healthcare services and products are provided for under their original Medicare policy.

What’s Covered streamlines access to some of Medicare’s most popular digital content, according to CMS. The idea is that recipients may retrieve coverage data wherever they are, including hospitals and the doctor’s office.

The belief that digital and patient-focused technologies can improve not only the patient experience but also healthcare at large has gripped CMS in recent years. This is the latest step in the so-called eMedicare initiative, which went live last year with the goal of increasing patient empowerment by care quality and cost transparency.

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“eMedicare is one of several initiatives focused on modernizing Medicare and empowering patients with information they need to get the best value from their Medicare coverage,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma, MPH, said in a statement. “This new app is the next in a suite of products designed to give consumers more access and control over their Medicare information.”

The free What’s Covered app is available on Apple’s App store and Google Play.

In the same announcement, CMS also noted that its Blue Button 2.0 initiative has taken a step forward. Beneficiaries may now connect Medicare claims data to third-party apps, a move that CMS hopes will help people better comprehend, leverage and share their medical data.

The launch of What’s Covered comes at a time of impressive growth in the Medicare population. By 2030, the number of patients on Medicare is slated to climb by 50 percent, to more than 80 million people.

But this new generation of Medicare recipients is uniquely suited to use an app like What’s Covered. While past mobile health efforts might have failed to reach many senior citizens, 65 percent of Medicare recipients used the internet daily or nearly every day as of 2016, according to CMS.

Meanwhile, Medicare’s website rakes in roughly 15 million pageviews related to policy coverage every year, and its toll-free hotline handles about 3 million calls regarding coverage. If all goes as planned, the What’s Covered app could alleviate some of that burden, which is expected to only grow in the near future.

The release of What’s Covered follows several similar innovations in the recent past, including the launch of an online price transparency tool for Medicare recipients.

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