What Screenings Do I Need and What Does Medicare Pay For?
Today’s question: “What health screenings do I need and does Medicare pay for them?”
The simple answer is, there are a number of health screenings you need on a regular basis to help you prevent diseases or detect them early when they’re easiest to treat. Medicare pays for quite a few.
Health screenings are something like preventive maintenance for your car - except way more important. Our friend, Gary, is very strict about getting his car checked and serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. He likes to keep it running smoothly. Health screenings work like that for your body. They help keep you feeling your best.
Gary found a Web site - www.medicare.gov - where he got a lot of information for his mom and dad about Medicare’s preventive services.
He learned that the screenings you should get, and how often you should get them, depend on your age, sex and risk factors. Your doctor can suggest the screening schedule that’s right for you. However, here is a list that will give you a general idea of what you may need.
Gary suggests you get a pencil and paper and start taking notes.
- Cardiovascular screenings - Medicare covers a test for substances like cholesterol in your blood every five years. Your doctor can use the results to help you prevent heart disease and stroke.
- Colorectal cancer screenings - Several screening tests are available. If you are 50 or older or at high risk, Medicare will pay for certain ones. You and your doctor should decide on the test and schedule that’s best for you.
- Diabetes screenings - Medicare covers tests to check for diabetes when you have certain risk factors - like being 65 or older. You may be eligible for up to two screenings a year.
- Glaucoma tests - Glaucoma can lead to blindness, but when you know you have it it’s easy to treat. Medicare covers screenings once a year for people at high risk.
- Osteoporosis screening - This test, which checks for brittle bone disease, is covered for people at risk once every 24 months, or more if medically necessary.
- Pap test and pelvic exam - Medicare covers these tests every 24 months for all women with Medicare, and annually for those at high risk.
- Physical exam - Most doctors recommend that adults get a physical every year. Medicare will pay for one of these exams within the first 12 months that you are covered by Medicare Part B.
- Prostate cancer screening - Medicare covers a digital rectal exam and PSA blood test once a year for men with Medicare who are over age 50.
- Screening mammograms - Medicare will pay for this breast cancer screening once a year for women with Medicare who are 40 or older.
While we’re at it, even though Gary doesn’t like shots, he wanted to mention other preventive services Medicare covers. They include the pneumonia shot, flu and Hepatitis B shots, as well as nutritional therapy and counseling to help you kick the smoking habit.
To sum it up, health screenings can help you avoid many serious illnesses or detect them early when they are most treatable. Medicare’s preventive services cover many of these tests. Talk with your doctor to determine the screenings you need and how often you need them based on your medical history.
If you do all these things just as diligently as Gary takes care of his car, you’ll get lots of mileage out of Medicare and a better trip along the road of life.
So now you know. Until next time, stay smart and stay healthy.