Everyone understands that there is usually “no free lunch.” And, while Medicare pays the lion’s share of medical expenses, people on Medicare still end up spending thousands of dollars each year by way of premiums, copays, deductibles, and various other out-of-pocket expenses. However, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded the number of free preventive Medicare services available for Medicare recipients. Here are ten of them.
Welcome to Medicare Initial Visit
Only available one time during the first twelve months of enrollment in Medicare Part B. It includes a valuable review of your medical history, measurement of your vital signs, certain screenings and shots, a vision test, and assessment of your potential risk for depression.
Annual Wellness Visit
After your first year on Part B, free Medicare services include a yearly exam. A physician will assess your medical history, take your vital signs, update your list of providers and medications, and provide you with personalized health advice and treatment options.
Note: Additional tests/procedures may be recommended that are not covered by the free visit and for which you might incur a deductible or copay.
An annual screening for breast cancer is a free Medicare service. However, if a diagnostic mammogram is needed, you’ll need to cough up a 20% copay. Also, the Part B deductible will be applied.
Screening for Prostate Cancer
A once-a-year PSA test is free. However, if a digital rectal exam is necessary, you will have to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount plus the fee for the examining doctor’s services. The Part B deductible also applies.
If you have been classified as someone who is at high risk for colorectal cancer, a screening colonoscopy once every two years is free. If you aren’t at high risk, the test is free every ten years.
Screening for Lung Cancer
A yearly low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) test is free if you meet the following conditions: you are between 55-77 years of age; you have no previous signs of lung cancer; you are currently smoking or have quit during the past fifteen years; you have a smoking history averaging one pack a day for thirty years or more.
Behavioral Therapy to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
To assist in lowering your risk for cardiovascular disease, Medicare services entitles you to a free yearly visit with your primary care doctor.
You’re eligible for two free diabetes screenings per year if you have a medical history of high cholesterol or blood pressure, or if you are obese with high blood sugar levels. Diabetes screening will also be no charge if two or more of these issues apply: you are 65 or older; you are overweight; you have a family history of diabetes; you had diabetes while you were pregnant.
A yearly screening will not cost you anything if the screening is carried out in a primary care facility where follow-up and referrals are available. However, copays may apply for follow-up care.
Certain vaccines such as annual flu shots, shots to prevent pneumococcal infections like pneumonia, and vaccines for hepatitis B (for those at medium to high risk) are all free of charge.
Note: The shingles vaccine is not covered by Medicare Part A or B. However, it may be covered by your Part D prescription drug plan or your Medicare Advantage plan.
Take and Maintain Control of Your Health
Taking advantage of all these free Medicare services is important. Doing so will help you stay healthy and active during your golden years. If you live in the Columbia, SC, area and you or a loved one have medical problems and wish to stay in your own home, please contact Caring Healthcare to see how we can help.