What Does Medicare Cover? Medicare.gov’s "What’s Covered" App

The What’s Covered app allows Medicare beneficiaries to check coverage and compare costs with the touch of their smartphone screen.

Woman using smartphone

January 30, 2019

Many American seniors are embracing technology, so the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is now offering a convenient way for beneficiaries to look up what Medicare covers.

The CMS released a new smartphone app on January 28 called What’s Covered. The What’s Covered app is free and is available for both Apple and Android devices in the App Store and Google Play.

What’s Covered allows beneficiaries to quickly check whether or not Medicare will cover a specific medical item or health care service.

The app can help Medicare beneficiaries in a number of ways, such as:

  • A beneficiary can use the app in a doctor’s office waiting room to see how their appointment will be covered.
  • Beneficiaries have easier access to information to help them decide between different coverage options.
  • Consistent Medicare benefit information can be accessed easily at any time.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma called the app “The next in a suite of products designed to give consumers more access and control over their Medicare information.”

The app comes as part of the CMS eMedicare initiative, which was introduced in the fall of 2018. This initiative aims to improve the customer service experience for Medicare beneficiaries, both online and over the phone.

Differentiating Medicare coverage options

One of the potential challenges facing Medicare beneficiaries is remembering which benefits are covered — or not — by their Medicare plan.

For example, Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, but it doesn’t typically cover prescription drugs. Also, some health care providers don’t accept Medicare reimbursement as full payment for their services. Taking these types of situations into account, beneficiaries can run the risk of receiving a medical item or health care service they believe will be covered in full by Medicare, when in fact it is not.

The app can help address such situations and also help beneficiaries make more informed decisions regarding the type of Medicare coverage that is right for their needs.

Medicare.gov currently offers a coverage finder tool, but it’s only accessible through a web browser and is not available as an easy-to-use smartphone app. With What’s Covered, users will be able to access the information any time on their smartphone.

Rising use of smartphones among seniors

A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 42 percent of Americans age 65 and up own and use a smartphone. That was up from just 18 percent in 2013.

Medicare coverage information will still be available online, over the phone or in person at a Social Security office. Thankfully, however, the What’s Covered app offers one more helpful source of information.