It’s inevitable: as you age, your body will go through some major changes. Your metabolism will slow down significantly, which could lead to weight gain, your skin will get thinner, meaning you’ll get colder than you used to due to decreased circulation, and so on. Another very common physical change that most older adults deal with is hair loss; in fact, by age 60, about 60% of women suffer from some degree of hair loss, and many men are nearly bald. While this is a normal part of aging, it can be embarrassing, and you might want to seek treatment to help with your hair loss. Many of the most effective treatments can be very expensive, but is it possible to get Medicare to cover them?
What Causes Hair Loss?
Did you know that every strand of hair on your head has a lifespan anywhere from 2-5 years? In addition, each hair follicle has a cycle of active growth, transition, and rest; if you are beginning to lose your hair, that means the follicles are remaining in the rest cycle, which can be caused by disease, medications, or your genes. The most common cause of hair loss is hereditary hair loss, known as male or female pattern hair loss, but the following medications and medical conditions can contribute to hair loss. Medications include:
- Blood thinners
- Vitamin A supplements
- Some arthritis medications
- Gout medications
- Heart medications
- Blood pressure medications
- Birth control pills
Medical conditions that can cause hair loss include:
- Thyroid disease
- Alopecia areata
- Scalp infections like ringworm
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Untreated STIs, specifically syphilis
Hair Loss Treatments
If you experience hair loss or baldness because of the medications you are taking, speak to your doctor about possible alternative medications that will not have this side effect. For other types of hair loss, treatments include:
- Laser therapy
- Hair transplant surgery
- Wigs or hairpieces
Your doctor might propose one or more of these treatment options.
What Medicare Covers
Unfortunately, Medicare does not generally cover treatment for hair loss; for example, if you choose to get hair transplant surgery, Medicare will not cover any of the costs. Medicare Part B will only cover medically necessary treatment for any underlying disease or condition that might be causing your hair loss, but will not cover any specific treatments for the hair loss itself. As in all cases, Medicare will cover 80% of the cost of treatments and medications for these conditions, and you will be responsible for the 20% coinsurance that Medicare does not cover.
Preventing Hair Loss
There is no foolproof way to prevent hair loss, but there are some precautions you can take to help slow it down. You can:
- Use a topical treatment like minoxidil
- Massage your scalp
- Avoid hairstyles that tug on your hair follicles
- Avoid smoking
- Make changes to your diet. A diet high in antioxidants can help reduce stress on your hair follicles, and help keep your hair from falling out.
If you are concerned that your hair is getting thinner or that you are balding, it is important to seek help from your doctor. Your hair loss might be hereditary, but it could also be due to medications you are taking, or caused by an underlying disease you are unaware of. Your doctor can run some tests and if they do find that you have a health condition, they can treat it – and this treatment will be covered by Medicare Part B.
While Medicare Part B covers most necessary treatments, it only covers 80% of expenses; If you are looking for more coverage, especially for the 20% coinsurance you are responsible for, a Medicare Supplement Plan might be your best option. One of these plans will not only cover the coinsurance you are responsible for, but will also cover other things that Medicare does not. There are 10 different Medicare Supplement Plans to choose from, and EZ can compare all available plans in your area for free. We will find a plan that meets your specific needs and saves you hundreds of dollars. To get free quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.