• When a 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine is available, Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage will cover it.
  • The recent CARES Act specifically states that Medicare Part B will cover a 2019 novel coronavirus vaccine.
  • Because Medicare Advantage is required to include the same basic coverage as original Medicare (parts A and B), Advantage plans will also cover the new vaccine once it is developed.

We’re currently in the midst of a pandemic caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus. The actual name of this virus is SARS-CoV-2, and the disease that it causes is called COVID-19.

There’s currently no vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus. However, scientists are working hard to develop one. But will Medicare cover it when it’s available?

Medicare will indeed cover the 2019 novel coronavirus vaccine. Continue reading below to learn more.

Medicare will cover the vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus when it becomes available. The recent CARES Act, specifically states that Medicare Part B will cover a 2019 novel coronavirus vaccine.

But what about people with a Medicare Part C (Advantage) plan?

Because these plans are required to include the basic coverage given by original Medicare (parts A and B), those with an Advantage plan will also be covered.

It’s currently believed that it will take at least 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to be available. This is because vaccines, like other drugs, must undergo rigorous testing and clinical trials to make sure that they are both safe and effective.

Research into vaccines for the 2019 novel coronavirus has exploded in recent months. In fact, a recent report from the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery estimated that there are 115 vaccine candidates currently in development!

However, only a handful of these candidates have entered phase I clinical trials. This type of trial is designed to assess the safety of the vaccine in a group of healthy volunteers.

The vaccine candidates currently in phase I trials include:

  • mRNA-1273 by Moderna
  • Ad5-nCoV by CanSino Biologics
  • INO-4800 by Inovio Pharmaceuticals
  • LV-SMENP-DC by Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute
  • Pathogen-specific aAPC by Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute

The strategies used to develop these vaccines are very diverse. Many of them focus on generating antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 S protein. This is the protein that the virus uses to attach to and enter a host cell.

There’s currently no specific treatment approved for COVID-19. It’s likely that those that become sick will need to use a variety of inpatient and outpatient services as they recover. So what exactly does Medicare cover?

If you do become sick with COVID-19, Medicare will cover many of your health needs. Let’s answer some questions you may have below.

Medicare Part B covers the cost of testing to determine if you have COVID-19. You’ll pay nothing for the test.

Part B also covers the cost of other tests that are medically necessary to help diagnose COVID-19. One example of this is a lung CT scan. You’ll typically pay 20 percent of the total cost after meeting your Part B deductible ($198).

Medicare Part B covers the costs of outpatient doctors’ visits. After meeting your deductible, you’re often responsible for paying 20 percent of the total cost.

If your doctor prescribes medication to help treat COVID-19, Medicare Part D can cover this. Part D is prescription drug coverage.

People with original Medicare can purchase a Part D plan. Part D is included in many Advantage plans.

Coverage of telehealth visits has also expanded during the pandemic. These are virtual doctor’s visits that are done instead of in-person visits to the office. After you’ve met your Part B deductible, you’ll pay 20 percent of the total cost.

If you’re admitted as an inpatient to a hospital due to COVID-19, Medicare Part A will cover these costs. You’ll be responsible for a $1,408 deductible for your benefit period and for a daily coinsurance beginning after day 60.

Part A covers services like:

  • your room
  • meals
  • general nursing services
  • medications given as part of your inpatient treatment
  • other hospital supplies or services

Part A also covers people who would have normally been discharged but need to stay under quarantine at a hospital or other inpatient facility.

Additionally, Part B covers most doctors’ services that you receive while you’re an inpatient at a hospital.

Medicare Part B will cover ground transportation in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. After meeting your deductible, you’ll pay 20 percent of the total cost.

Advantage plans are required to offer the same basic set of benefits as original Medicare (parts A and B). Because of this, if you have an Advantage plan, you’ll be covered for the same services we’ve discussed above.

Some Advantage plans may offer expanded telehealth benefits. Additionally, prescription drug coverage is included in many Advantage plans.

Which parts of Medicare cover the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Let’s do a quick recap of which parts of Medicare cover the 2019 novel coronavirus:

  • Part A: Part A covers inpatient stays at locations such as a hospital or skilled nursing facility.
  • Part B: Part B covers outpatient visits and services, some inpatient services, COVID-19 testing, the novel coronavirus vaccine (when available), telehealth visits, and ambulance services
  • Part C: Part C covers the same basic benefits as parts A and B. It may also offer expanded telehealth coverage.
  • Part D: Part D covers prescription drugs.
  • Supplement insurance (Medigap): Medigap helps pay for deductibles, coinsurance, and copays that aren’t covered by parts A and B.

  • There’s currently no vaccine available for the 2019 novel coronavirus. Scientists are currently working to develop one, and several candidates have entered phase I clinical trials.
  • It’ll likely take a year or more for an effective vaccine to be developed and approved. When the vaccine is available, Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage will cover it.
  • Medicare also covers many of the health services that you may need if you become ill with COVID-19. Examples include but aren’t limited to, testing, doctors’ visits, and hospitalization.