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Medicare: There’s an App for that!

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In today’s day and age, we have a world of knowledge at our finger tips. Smartphones have allowed various industries to expand beyond what anyone could have ever imagined, and Medicare is no different.

According to research, 79% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 as well as 53% of Americans over the age of 65 own a smartphone. Society is evolving, and so should our healthcare.

The Medicare App, known as “What’s Covered”, was launched by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The App aims at providing a modernized Medicare experience via mobile devices. The content will include some of the most relevant information found on Medicare.gov. Medicare.gov assures you that the App “safe, reliable, and easy to use.”

As the name suggests, “What’s Covered” allows consumers to see what is, and is not, covered by Medicare Parts A and B. This information includes basic cost and eligibility specifics. However, the App will not provide information about extra benefits that may be covered by Medicare Advantage, such as vision, dental, and hearing benefits.

“What’s Covered” is part of the government’s new program, eMedicare. EMedicare is a multi-year initiative designed to improve the channels Medicare uses for customer services. These changes include an updated website, phone system, and now smartphone access.

In addition to “What’s Covered”, eMedicare aims to enhance interactive online decision support. The program wishes create price transparency tools to allow consumers to compare the national average costs of procedures and medications and introduce a webchat option. Lastly, by incorporating surveys, CMS is becoming better informed as to what consumers want in their healthcare.

It is important to remember that the “What’s Covered” is only providing general information. The App does not ask for the users’ information or details about specific plans, but rather provides the general information that can be found on the Medicare website and Medicare handbook in an easy to use mobile setting.

However, another resource available for Medicare participants is Blue Button, a software that enables consumers to store their healthcare claims and related information. Blue Button creates a platform for consumers to download personal information and connect it to various Apps, computer-based programs, and research platforms. This software can be used to keep track of healthcare services over a long period of time, in an easy to read format, so that individuals and their healthcare providers are making informed decisions. Blue Button can be used in combination with “What’s Covered” to create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Understandably, many individuals may be skeptical of these services in fear that their medical information will not be secure. Medicare.gov assures consumers that Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are safe and kept confidential. If you and your doctor choose to utilize EHRs, they can be shared with other treating physicians, through a secure network. In fact, they declare that using EHRs can help lower the chances of medical errors and improve the overall quality of your healthcare.

For more information on “What’s Covered”, the use of Blue Button, and related eMedicare services, please visit www.medicare.gov.