I am taking a break this week from discussing a topic specific to Medicare benefits. I feel the topic this week is truly relevant considering how fast things have changed in 2020. The pandemic has changed much of our everyday lives. I do believe that there will be some sense of normalcy eventually, but never in the same way. Many businesses have closed their office spaces and workers have been sent home to work remotely. Some have lost their jobs and will have to find new industries to work in. Online meetings and virtual doctor visits are becoming normal. One thing that we know for sure, America is resilient. We have survived a great depression, two world wars, and other pandemics like the Spanish flu. The American spirit will live on. So, what effect does this have on Medicare beneficiaries? We know that this virus affects the older population more than any other. How will this affect me as the Medicare professional and my ability to convey information to my clients. Let us dive deeper and talk about it.
I have been a face to face agent for many years. An actual physical visit has been the way I have helped hundreds of my clients make important decisions about their Medicare options. I have noticed over the past month that more and more seniors do not want to have an in-home visit. I can completely respect and understand this. They simply do not know where I have been and what I have been exposed to. I would not want a total stranger visiting my parents in this time, especially if they had underlying health conditions. Delivering important Medicare options to Medicare recipients is changing rapidly. It is ever more important to the people in my industry to have an online presence. A good website and a social media platform are no longer an option going into the future. We need to be flexible and realize that more and more seniors are going online for help, especially those aging into Medicare.
This does not just affect the way I do business, but the medical professionals as well. A routine exam with a Medicare recipient’s primary doctor could potentially put them at risk for the virus. So how does the older population receive proper healthcare when physical appointments are no longer allowed? This is one of the major kinks that doctors and healthcare companies are trying to work out right now. It does seem that Medicare Advantage plans over the past few years have had made some preparations for a time like this. Many of the plans now offer virtual visits as a benefit. I cannot say that I have heard good nor bad about these types of visits. To be honest, I do not think that seniors have utilized this benefit much. Especially older seniors that do not have a lot of experience with technology. I believe that seniors over the age of 75 are going to be disproportionately affected by the changing times. They simply did not grow up in the age of smart phones, tablets, and social media. Matter fact, I have met many who refuse to own a computer. In this lies the great challenge. One thing I know for sure, we will never leave any segment of the population behind. I for one will do my best to make sure all Medicare beneficiaries will have the most relevant information when it comes to benefits.
The good news is that most seniors in their 60’s have adapted quite well to changing technology. Facebook has been a gamechanger in how seniors stay connected with families and friends. Statistics show that nearly 50% of seniors over 60 are on Facebook. More than likely, seniors in this age group have smart devices such as a smartphone or tablets. This makes it easier to adapt to the changing times in healthcare. I believe that more and more healthcare will be administer through virtual visits and privacy protected applications. Lab results, CT scans, and other important information can now be safely delivered through encrypted applications. Many of these smart apps allow seniors to schedule appointments and pay medical bills as well. These applcications allow healthcare to be centralized. The next few years should be interesting to see how companies that offer Medicare plans implement technology.
I am not trying to make it sound like all healthcare is going to be virtual from here on out. Obviously, surgeries and physical therapy cannot be administered virtually. There is a whole host of treatments that must be done in person. I am not trying to communicate that I am for or against the technological changes. What I am conveying is that this is the beginning of a new decade. Things have changed and will continue to change whether we like it or not. I believe that this virus has accelerated the technological way healthcare will be administered. We need to be ready.