Flu season comes every year from about November to the spring, and 2020 is set to be an especially tough flu season because of the combination of COVID-19 and the typical influenza season. Here are some of our best tips for staying safe this season and utilizing your Medicare benefits to get the care you need during the flu season of 2020:

Flu vaccine

Medicare Part B covers the flu vaccine, and for anyone with a Medicare Advantage plan, that plan is required to cover it as well. Taking advantage of getting this season’s influenza vaccine as early as October is a great way to be prepared later on in the year. This year the flu vaccine is especially important, since avoiding being hit with a case of coronavirus at the same time as the flu could be lifesaving. 

The flu vaccine is considered essential preventative care, so all Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans should cover the full cost of getting this year’s shot. The flu vaccine is available at most doctor’s offices, clinics and many pharmacies.

Safe Travel

For anyone traveling for winter holidays this year, safety is a top concern. Making sure to social distance, wear a mask and practice good hygiene anywhere you go can help you avoid being exposed to both coronavirus and the flu. The good news is some of the social distancing measures many people are taking for COVID-19 may also help reduce the spread of flu during its normal season.

If you are planning to travel this year, a Medicare plan that includes a travel option or a doctor outside your typical network, such as a Medicare supplement plan, might be the ideal one to invest in during the open enrollment period.

When To Go In

If you get sick this winter season, it’s going to be tough to tell if you have coronavirus, the flu, a cold or something else. Many of the symptoms are the same for different types of respiratory infections, and sometimes catching one can put you at greater risk for another.

 That means having a plan for when to go in to the doctor can be especially important. Be prepared to monitor your exact symptoms closely and call your doctor if you become concerned they are getting too serious. Any symptom involving rapid heartbeat or difficulty breathing should be taken seriously as potential coronavirus. Getting tested at that point could help you save your own life and someone else’s.

Having a Plan for Care

if your symptoms are less severe but you are still concerned, think through your plan for managing typical flus. Because the flu is a virus, there is no clear-cut treatment like an antibiotic. However, going into a clinic, urgent care center or the emergency room if you experience too high of a fever and need antiviral drugs or require IV fluids because you are dehydrated can be lifesaving. Talk to your doctor in advance about when you need to go in and which type of center to access.

If you have a limited plan in terms of in-network providers, such as a Medicare Advantage plan structured as an HMO, be aware that you may need to do some scouting ahead to see where you can access antivirals, fluids, urgent care or even just a doctor to call asking about your symptoms this winter. Knowing in advance where to get this care could save you money by the end of the season.