The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched a new app that is part of a broader goal to give consumers a modernized Medicare experience.
The app—called “What’s Covered”—will give users direct access on a mobile device to some of the most-used content on Medicare.gov. It lets people with Original Medicare, caregivers and others see whether Medicare covers a specific medical item or service.
In addition to the “What’s Covered” app, through Blue Button 2.0, the agency is enabling beneficiaries to connect their claims data to applications and tools developed by private-sector companies to help them understand, use, and share their health data, according to CMS officials.
The impetus behind the app’s creation, according to federal officials, was to meet the needs of the growing population of people with Medicare, which is projected to increase almost 50 percent by 2030—from 54 million beneficiaries in 2015 to more than 80 million beneficiaries in 2030.
As of 2016, about two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries indicate they use the Internet daily or almost daily (65 percent). Questions about what Medicare covers are some of the most frequent inquiries that CMS receives. Also of note, there are approximately 15 million page views annually for coverage-related content on Medicare.gov and 1-800 MEDICARE receives over 3 million coverage-related calls each year, officials noted.
As such, the government’s “eMedicare” initiative launched in 2018 aims to empower beneficiaries with cost and quality information. Other tools in the eMedicare suite include a new online service that lets people quickly see how different coverage choices will affect their estimated out-of-pocket costs; and price transparency tools that let consumers compare the national average costs of certain procedures between settings, so people can see what they’ll pay for procedures done in a hospital outpatient department versus an ambulatory surgical center.
“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 said in a statement. “President Trump is delivering on his commitment to Medicare by modernizing tools that deliver health information in the most convenient way possible. This new app is the next in a suite of products designed to give consumers more access and control over their Medicare information.”