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Are You Taking Advantage of Medicare’s Free Preventative Services?

When we are young, we tend to think that we are invincible.  As we age, we find out that taking care of ourselves is more important than ever.  Normal aging affects our bones, joints and heart.  For this reason, preventative care is key to avoid aging that could be harmful to your health.

If you signed up for Medicare Part B as a part of Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C), there are many screenings, vaccinations and counseling services that you can take advantage of at no cost.  By being proactive and going for these services, you have more of a chance of detecting health conditions early enough to treat.

If your doctor accepts Medicare’s fee for covered services, you can continue to see your trusted doctor while benefiting from the many preventative care services that Medicare has to offer.  Free preventative care services are available to adults 50 years old or older however, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 50 percent of adults age 65 or older are up to date on these services.

Here is a list of fully covered Medicare preventive services:

Vaccinations

  • Flu Shots – Medicare will cover one flu shot every flu season
  • Hepatitis B – To ensure full protection, three shots are covered
  • Pneumonia Shots – Although one shot in a lifetime is typical, a second shot is also covered one year later.

Screenings

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening – One-time ultrasound.
  • Bone Mass Measurement – One test every 24 months or more if medically necessary.
  • Breast Cancer Screenings – Annual screenings, including breast exams and mammograms.
  • Cardiovascular Screenings – Blood tests to check cholesterol, lipid and triglyceride levels every five years.
  • Cervical and Vaginal Cancer Screenings – Pap tests and pelvic exams once every 24 months or once every 12 months if at risk for cancer.
  • Colorectal Cancer Screenings – Sigmoidoscopy every 48 months or every 24 months if at high risk, screening every 120 months if not at high risk and fecal occult blood test every 12 months.
  • Depression Screening – One yearly screening.
  • Diabetes Screening – If you are at risk for diabetes, two fasting blood glucose tests are covered.
  • Hepatitis C Screening Test – Typically only one test is covered. However, if you are at high risk, yearly screenings are covered.
  • HIV Screening – Medicare will cover one test every 12 months.
  • Lung Cancer Screening – If you are a current or former smoker, one yearly screening is covered.
  • Obesity Screening – The screening is covered for individuals whose body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more.
  • Prostate Cancer Screenings – One prostate specific antigen test is covered every 12 months.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections Screening – Screenings for Hepatitis B, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are covered once every 12 months.

Counseling

  • Alcohol Misuse – Four yearly sessions are covered.
  • Cardiovascular Behavioral Therapy – One yearly session is covered.
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy – The first year includes three hours of therapy. Each year after that includes two hours of therapy.
  • Obesity – If you are interested in losing weight, behavioral counseling is covered.
  • Tobacco Use Cessation – Eight sessions a year are covered.

If the conclusion of one of these tests results in further testing, there may be out of pocket costs associated with those services.  In some cases, not all Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for all Medicare preventative services.  If you have questions as to which services are covered, you may want to review your Medicare policy.

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