Getting the most out of Medicare means taking advantage of the services offered to you. The best way to start living a healthy lifestyle is to look at preventive care services. Whether you want to start exercising, eating better, stop smoking or just get help for diabetes, there are a few different ways to use Medicare in your favor. There are many preventive services available through Medicare that allow you to find health problems early and start treatment. To prevent yourself from contracting a serious illness, lab tests, x-rays and screenings can play a major role in getting help. The Affordable Care Act made a lot of necessary improvements to Medicare to ensure that these services were provided at little to no cost to those who are enrolled in Medicare. This article goes over some of the preventive care services that you can receive with Medicare.
Alcohol Misuse, Screening and Counseling
Adults who have Medicare including women who are pregnant can receive help for alcohol dependency. Medicare covers one alcohol misuse screening every year. You can also receive up to four face-to-face counseling sessions, and a qualified medical doctor or practitioner must provide any counseling to you. You don’t pay anything if you go to a primary care doctor or other primary care practitioner who accepts the assignment.
Bone Mass Measurements
If you believe you have osteoporosis or just fear that you have a broken bone, Medicare also covers screenings to check your bone density. These tests give you valuable insight into keeping your bones strong. This service is provided to anyone whose doctor believes they are at risk for osteoporosis and have one of these conditions:
- Estrogen-deficient and at-risk osteoporosis patients
- Vertebral abnormalities shown on x-rays
- Anyone receiving steroid treatments
- Persons who are taking osteoporosis drugs
Measurements can occur once a year on average but also may be used when necessary. You don’t pay anything for this service.
Breast Cancer Screenings
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in women in the US. All women are at risk, and risks increase with age. However, it can be treated successfully when found early. Women who are 40 and over are eligible for a mammogram every year. Medicare also covers a baseline mammogram for women between 35 and 39. You don’t pay anything for these screenings.
Cardiovascular Disease Screening and Behavioral Therapy
Anyone with Medicare can be screened for cardiovascular disease once every five years. You can also receive behavioral therapy including screenings for high blood pressure, discussing aspirin to help with risks and counseling to achieve a better diet. You also receive tests for cholesterol, lipid and triglyceride levels. The screenings and behavioral therapy are free.
Cervical and Vaginal Cancer Screening
Medicare covers Pap tests and pelvic exams that are necessary to diagnose and treat cancers of the cervix and vagina. Medicare also covers clinical breast exams. All women are eligible for these cancer screenings. You don’t pay anything for the Pap test or pelvic exam. These tests and exams are particularly important to anyone who has had an abnormal Pap test and if you began having sex at an early age or have engaged with multiple partners.
Anyone with Medicare can receive help for depression. You receive one depression screening every year, and it’s free as long as you see a primary care physician and follow up with your treatment. The screening may also offer you referrals for counseling and medication to help with symptoms of depression.
Medicare offers a lot of help for anyone with Medicare who is at risk for diabetes. Medicare also covers self-management and educational training to help with diabetes problems. Up to 2 diabetes screenings are free each year. However, you pay 20% of the cost for a Medicare-approved approved amount after your Part B deductible for the self-management training.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that is caused by high pressure in the eyes. It develops over time without warning and doesn’t show any symptoms. The best way for individuals who might be at risk for this disease is eye tests. Medicare covers one glaucoma test every year. You pay 20% of a cost that is approved by Medicare after your annual Part B deductible. You are more at risk for glaucoma if you have diabetes, family history of glaucoma, African-American heritage or Hispanic heritage and you are 65 or older.
Anyone who asks for an HIV screening can receive one per year or up to three times during a pregnancy.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
If you have diabetes or kidney disease, or your doctor requests this service, then you may receive help from a dietitian or nutrition professional. Nutritional assessments and counseling are covered to help you manage your diet. You receive three hours of one-on-one counseling in the first year and two years for each year after that. You may be able to get further hours of treatment if your condition worsens.
Obesity Screening and Counseling
For anyone who is overweight, Medicare covers intensive behavioral therapy. Your body mass index must be 30 and over. Counseling is also covered by this service. You receive one face-to-face counseling visit each week in the first month of your treatment, then you receive one visit every other week for the second month through the sixth month. After that you receive one visit every month as long as you are losing weight. You may receive more counseling visits if you have more trouble losing weight. You don’t pay anything for these services.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Doctors can help individuals find prostate cancer by testing the amount of Prostate Specific Antigens in the bloodstream. Doctors can also perform digital rectal exams. All men with Medicare who are over 50 can receive these screenings. You can receive a digital rectal exam once every 12 months and a PSA test once every 12 months. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved costs for the digital rectal exam, and you don’t pay anything for the PSA test.
Sexually Transmitted Infection Tests and Counseling
Anyone with Medicare who is pregnant or anyone who is at risk for STIs can receive screening and counseling through Medicare for free. However, your primary care doctor must order the tests and counseling.
Medicare covers all kinds of free shots to prevent flu, pneumococcal and Hepatitis B. You can receive flu shots once every flu season. Pneumococcal shots are available once in your life for free. For Hepatitis B, three shots are needed. You need to speak with a doctor to see if you are eligible.
Tobacco Use Counseling
If you want help to quit smoking, Medicare covers counseling sessions as long as you haven’t been diagnosed with an illness caused by tobacco use. Medicare covers 8 face-to-face visits that must be given by a qualified doctor. You don’t pay anything for these services.
Yearly Wellness Exam
You also receive one free wellness exam every year through Medicare just to make sure that you are in a good health.
For more information and for a longer list of preventive care services, you can view the Preventive Services Checklist on Medicare.gov.