CMS launches a new innovative app - eMedicare

CMS launches a new innovative app - eMedicare

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways in which they can provide better services for their beneficiaries. One of those is the newly formed eMedicare initiative.

How can eMedicare help you?

As such, eMedicare is an on-going initiative whose main goal is to modernize the way people interact and gain new information with Medicare related to their benefits, as well as helping them make better-informed decisions for both themselves and their families. eMedicare does this by empowering beneficiaries by giving them tools that are familiar, much like the ones they use in the private sector and everyday life.

These tools include an enhanced and improved interactive online support that helps beneficiaries and their caregivers get a better grasp of their coverage options that helps them evaluate costs between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage – an online service that shows people the different choices they have and how will they affect the average out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, the new price transparency tools allow beneficiaries to compare the nation-wide average costs of specific procedures in different settings, as well as a new online chat option embedded within the Medicare Plan Finder.

“Public service is a privilege. My primary mission as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is to deliver on President Trump’s commitment to strengthen and modernize Medicare for the millions of Americans who depend on us every day,” said Seema Verma, an administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Information at your fingertips

Another part of CMS’s mission is the “What’s Covered” application, designed to help people with Original Medicare, their families and caregivers to perform a quick check on their smartphones whether or not Medicare provides coverage for a certain medical item or service. As of now, beneficiaries can easily gain accurate and consistent information regarding their Original Medicare coverage no matter where they’re at, be it at the doctor’s office, at home, or on the move.

The application was launched in an effort to help the ever-increasing population with Medicare information. The number of beneficiaries using Medicare is expected to grow from 57 million in 2016 to over 80 million in 2030.

There are still some hurdles to overcome

Veema Verna was saddened to say that, “I’ve learned that with any improvement you try to make, there will always be naysayers. A recent article by Kaiser Health News surprised me, though, because it took a disappointing view of our nation’s seniors: that they are incapable of and not interested in using modern technology.”

While this form of ageism isn’t new, it has some inaccuracies. Research performed by CMS has shown that a great body of Medicare beneficiaries use smartphones and tablets, constantly download applications, and use them throughout their everyday lives. The Pew Research Center reported that, as of 2016, approximately two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries have said that they use the Internet on a daily basis or close to that (about 65%). Additionally, a 55% increase was reported in Internet use among older adults since 2000 (from 12% to 67%), and approximately four in ten older adults (42%) have said that they use smartphones, as opposed to only 18% in 2013. The underlying expectation of the “What’s Covered” application is that projected percentage of people using smartphones will increase over time. Moreover, younger caregivers will also be able to benefit from applications that will aid them in providing better care by having a better understanding of health coverage.

Questions regarding Medicare coverage are among the mostly asked question CMS receives. The website has around 15 million annual visits for their coverage content on Medicare.org and 1-800-MEDICARE annually has over 3 million calls related to coverage. These inquiries are made from Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, clinics, and other people that have to deal with the Medicare program in one way or another.

“Critics may disparage our efforts, but more than 230,000 people downloaded our new app in less than a month. Before its launch, people with Medicare tested the app and told us they found it easy to use. We’ve already released updates to address feedback and plan to offer more features in future versions,” said Verma.

Other ways eMedicare keeps you informed

Instead of replacing, this new initiative is designed to improve on the already existing consumer service options. If any Medicare beneficiaries prefer using applications to inquire about their coverage, they can do so now. If, alternatively, they prefer to look them up online, Medicare.org has a plethora of content for them to sift through. If they want to go the physical approach, the Medicare & You handbook is being printed every day and has lots of information as well. And last, but not least, if they want to get personal, the 1-800-MEDICARE call center is working 24/7.

Seema Verna finishes off by saying, “Our goal is to continue our efforts to empower patients and unleash innovation to deliver results. We are developing eMedicare tools that will help people select their best coverage and evaluate the quality of providers. We will continue to anticipate the needs of Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers to help them take greater control of their healthcare. This is how we are putting patients first and strengthening Medicare.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sholem Berkowitz
Sholem Berkowitz

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