Medicare offers free preventive care services that many seniors do not know about or forget to take advantage of. All people with Part B are covered for these services at no cost to them. Utilizing these free services is an important step to help you stay healthy and prevent/detect something before it becomes catastrophic to your health and your wallet.
“Welcome to Medicare” Preventive Visit
When you first enroll into Medicare Part B, you can get this initial visit within the first 12 months. During this visit, your medical and social history is reviewed and you will receive free preventive services. The services include certain screenings, shots, and referrals if needed, a vision test, body mass index (BMI) calculation, height and weight measurements, blood pressure measurements, depression screening, a plan with knowledge of which future screenings, shots, and other preventive services you need. This is only covered one time and is not required to be covered by the annual “wellness” visits.
Annual “Wellness” Visits
When you see a doctor on a regular basis, you have a greater chance of staying healthy because your doctor can catch and treat any minor issues before they become a major one. With Medicare, you are covered for one free annual doctor visit at least 11 months after your prior wellness exam, then once every year after that
These visits will include similar services as the “welcome to Medicare” visit, and your doctor will ask you to fill out a questionnaire called a “Health Risk Assessment”. These questions will help you and your doctor understand and create a personalized prevention plan to stay healthy.
Your provider will help you update your list of prescriptions and give you advice on your current and future healthcare. All of this comes at no cost to you, but if the doctor gives you any additional tests or treatments that are not part of the basic screenings, it will cost you. Notify your provider that you want only the tests that are covered in full to avoid any unwanted costs, and make sure they review the costs of any necessary tests with you prior to scheduling them.
To catch any condition early, screenings are necessary. This can help you avoid a minor issue becoming a serious condition, which is why it is covered by Medicare.
The screenings offered at no charge are:
- Cancer screenings for lung cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, prostate and colorectal cancer.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Alcohol Misuse
- Hepatitis C
- Bone mass Measurements for bone density
- Obesity screening
- Weight-loss counseling
It is important to take advantage of this and ask your doctor for any screening and preventative care that you think you might need.
Other Free Care
There are other free services that you can use in addition to screenings and exams. Shots for the Flu, Hepatitis B, and Pneumococcal are covered at no cost to you. Medicare also covers alcohol misuse counseling in order to help you quit, as well as smoking counseling. Medicare offers free advance care planning, so if you would like, you can talk to your provider about the care you would want to get if you became unable to speak for yourself. There are forms you can fill out including a living will and power of attorney for health care.
As long as your provider accepts Medicare assignment, then you can use these free services to remain healthy and prevent any serious conditions from developing.