By Lloyd Lofton
My wife and I went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner last night.
I used a glove to open the door, cleaned the tabletop with a hand wipe, and used another wipe to hand my credit card to the server. A lady who looked like she was retirement age was sitting across the aisle from us and watching me do these things. As I got up, she smiled at me and I told her I didn’t want to take any chances with COVID-19. She replied that she thought about the virus before she came out to dinner, although she said she worries about it.
With all the press conferences, talking heads bloviating and instant news feed commentary about COVID-19, this is what’s on people’s minds.
And they say people over 60 and those with underlying health issues are most at risk.
If that’s true, that those 60 or older with underlying health issues are most at risk, what information are they getting, outside of the news media or social media?
Medicare is communicating with them on a regular basis about COVID-19. In the past three days, Medicare sent its beneficiaries two emails.
The first one informed beneficiaries that Medicare Part B covers testing for COVID-19. The email told when the test is covered, and when people can and should get the test, along with some tips to prevent the spread of the virus.
In the email is a link to get more information. When the beneficiary clicks on the link, they are told the test is approved for delivery after Feb. 4, the beneficiary will usually pay nothing for this clinical diagnostic laboratory test and that their provider will need to wait until after April 1 to be able to submit a claim to Medicare for this test.
The second email cited some updated information from the Centers for Disease Control that highlighted additional definitions of who is most at risk, ending with the statement “…This means that most people with Medicare are at a higher risk.”
It then gave some general tips to stay healthy with a link to obtain more information.
I’m not saying you need to be an expert on the virus, or that your role is to dole out medical advice. However, your role is to be an informed and an intelligent advisor for this population.
I conducted a webinar and a couple of agents expressed that they didn’t bring up the subject of COVID-19 because they didn’t want to take advantage of the “situation” or be perceived as “using” the concern.
My response was, “That’s your job.” You’re supposed to disrupt the normal, remove compliancy, change the status quo and be the highly trained licensed professional who is informed and concerned about clients’ needs.
You don’t have to be a doctor to be informed; you don’t have to be a health care professional to share information. However, you are on the front lines. You are a trusted advisor and someone clients look to with confidence and expectation.
Asking some targeted questions and showing empathy for the things this population is concerned about is your job. It’s up to you how much you share. But one thing is for sure - the conversation will come up. If you are in the game, accept the challenge to be that trusted advisor.
Lloyd Lofton is the founder of Power Behind the Sales. He is the author of The Saleshero’s Guide To Handling Objections, voted 1 of the 11 Best New Presentation Books To Read in 2020 by BookAuthority. Lloyd may be contacted at [email protected].
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Precautions to take now
* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
* Clean your hands often.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
* If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
* To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, like elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, and handshaking with people. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
* Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes.
* Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces—tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones.
Extra caution with crowds and travel
* Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
* The CDC recommends that you defer all cruise ship travel worldwide, particularly if you also have underlying health issues.
* Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put you at increased risk for more severe disease. In addition to avoiding crowded places, you should avoid non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.
Preparing for healthcare needs
* Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (like tissues) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
* Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you'll be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
Medicare covers related needs
* Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs .
* Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
* At this time, there's no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
* If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits beyond the ones described below. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.
Telehealth & related services
Medicare covers “virtual check-ins” so you can connect with your doctor by phone or video, or even an online patient portal, to see whether you need to come in for a visit. If you're concerned about illness and are potentially contagious, this offers you an easy way to remain at home and avoid exposure to others.
* You may be able to communicate with your doctors or certain other practitioners without necessarily going to the doctor’s office in person for a full visit. Medicare pays for “virtual check-ins”—brief, virtual services with your established physician or certain practitioners where the communication isn't related to a medical visit within the previous 7 days and doesn’t lead to a medical visit within the next 24 hours (or soonest appointment available).
* You need to consent verbally to using virtual check-ins and your doctor must document that consent in your medical record before you use this service. You pay your usual Medicare coinsurance and deductible for these services.
* Medicare also pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals without going to the doctor’s office. Like the virtual check-ins, you must initiate these individual communications.
* If you live in a rural area, you may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. The law requires that these visits take place at specified sites of service, known as telehealth originating sites, and get services using a real-time audio and video communication system at the site to communicate with a remotely located doctor or certain other types of practitioners. Medicare pays for many medical visits through this telehealth benefit.