The term “Telehealth” is being used to describe two different types of care. As I discussed in my previous post, telehealth is a way for established patients to consult a health care provider by phone or video. There are also “telehealth” services that provide consultations to people outside of an established patient-health care provider relationship on an ad hoc basis.
For most non-emergency medical care, seeing a provider you know and trust is generally best. However, more health care providers are getting pulled in to treat COVID 19 patients or cover for those who are caring for those patients, so consulting a telehealth service may be the most direct route to care for minor issues.
Here are some suggestions for how to access telehealth care if your usual health care providers are not available:
• First, check with your insurance carrier (on line or by phone) to see what options they offer and how the visits are covered. For example, my insurer offers a direct connection to Amwell for urgent questions related to possible COVID 19 infection and MDlive for “minor medical conditions that are not life-threatening.”
• If the insurer’s telemed service isn’t sufficient, or there isn’t one, then these are some sites that offer medical review by phone or video conference.
Please note: Neither Square One nor I make any claim of quality of service for any of these sites or recommend these sites. This information is provided only to help you find the right service for you.
If you use a telehealth website, please be aware that information you provide through the site may be sold to third party users (like Facebook, Google or Twitter) and that the site may allow the information to be read, collected, or used by other users. Your information does not have the same protection as information you give to a health care provider in other settings.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) closed all offices to the public as of March 17, 2020. Local offices continue to provide some services over the phone. All live hearings are cancelled and are being rescheduled as telephone hearings or postponed. SSA is not taking any new, manual actions to reduce, suspend, or delay any benefits during this period, although automated actions may continue.
For a complete listing of the Social Security Administration’s response to COVID-19, please go to ttps://ncler.acl.gov/getattachment/Resources/SSA-Response-to-COVID-19.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US&eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=9b126ccd-c2e4-485f-a92d-fe6e5e85d954
Please note: if you receive a communication threatening to suspend or discontinue benefits because SSA offices are closed, it is likely a scam.
Public safety officials are warning older adults about several scams directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
• Callers offering “COVID-19 tests” or statements that the Federal government has mandated testing are attempts to get Social Security or Medicare information. Tests are available at a limited number of health care facilities in SLO County. For a list, go to https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/coronavirus/article241435611.html
• Offers for a “Corona Virus Vaccine.” There is no vaccine available at this time.
• A “Senior Care Package” that contains hand sanitizer and other items. Sanitizer and other products are available at local stores as supplies arrive. See my first Living with COVID-19 post for on-line shopping and delivery services.
• Sales of stock in companies claiming to have a cure or vaccine for COVID-19.
If you think you or someone you know may have been scammed, please contact:
• SLO Legal Assistance Foundation 805-543-5140
• AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Helpline 877-908-3360
• The National Center for Disaster Fraud 866-720-5721
Remember: you have no obligation to talk to anyone on the phone or respond to any email. Scammers are heartless and you do not owe them any courtesy.
More to follow – KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
Linda Beck, BCPA
Square One Elder and Health Advocacy