Q. I hear that Medicare has developed an “App” to help beneficiaries determine what benefits may be covered. Do you have any information on this?

A. Yes. Recently, as part of its initiative focused on modernizing Medicare and empowering beneficiaries, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has developed and launched a new “App” (short for “Application”).  The App is free and can be easily downloaded onto your smart phone or computer from the Medicare.gov website, or from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

On the App, you can search for what’s covered and what’s not covered under Medicare Parts “A” and “B”, how and when to get covered benefits, and obtain basic cost information and other eligibility details.  It can be especially helpful when, say, you are at the doctor’s office and need to determine whether a recommended procedure is covered. Just take out your smart phone and use the App. The information is right in your pocket!

However, the App does not give results for extra benefits that Medicare Advantage plans may cover but that Original Medicare does not. Also, it does not ask details about your specific insurance, so the App does not take into account the user’s supplemental insurance, co-insurance and deductibles.  Essentially, it provides a way that you can carry in your pocket the same information otherwise available online and in the Medicare Handbook available at Medicare.gov.

Examples of the types of questions the App can answer include:

  • When are mammograms covered?
  • Is home health care covered?
  • Will Medicare pay for diabetes supplies?
  • Can I get a regular cervical cancer screening?
  • Will my Medicare benefits cover a service to help me stop smoking?

To get the new “What’s Covered” app, go to www.Medicare.gov and click on the link on the home page which says “Learn About our new App”.

The App is part of an initiative by CMS focused on modernizing Medicare and empowering beneficiaries. Other initiatives include:

  • Enhanced interactive online decision supportto help beneficiaries better understand and evaluate the coverage options and costs of original Medicare compared to Medicare Advantage plans.
  • New price transparency tools that let consumers compare the national average costs of certain procedures between settings, so people can see what they will pay for procedures done in a hospital outpatient department versus an ambulatory surgical center.
  • A new webchat option in the Medicare Plan Finder.
  • New easy-to-use surveys across Medicare.gov so consumers can tell CMS what they want.

Have fun next time you’re at your doctor’s office and help spread the word to your doctor’s staff and other patients.