The American Cancer Society estimates 13,000 women to be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. About 50% of these women are 50 or over, and 15% of them are aged 65 and older. Cervical cancer can easily be identified through a routine Pap smear. Luckily for women 65 and older. Medicare covers Pap tests and pelvic exams to ensure health, and review risks. Taking advantage of these services Medicare offer can help evaluate any issues, and treat them early on. More importantly, these services can help prevent cervical cancer.
Pap smear tests screen for signs of cervical cancer. The doctor uses a small device shaped like a spatula to scrape a few cells from your cervix. The specimen collected is then sent to a lab to check for any pre-cancer cells or abnormalities. If the doctor is able to identify any pre-cancerous cells early on, then you can be treated before the cancer fully develops.
What’s Covered By Medicare
Medicare Part B covers Pap smears and pelvic exams to screen for vaginal and cervical cancers once every 2 years. The screening also includes a clinical breast exam to screen for breast cancer. If you are at high risk for cervical or vaginal cancer, then Medicare will cover the screening tests every year.
A woman is considered high risk for cervical or vaginal cancer if she:
- Was sexually active before the age of 16.
- Has had 5 or more sexual partners.
- Ever had a sexually transmitted disease.
- Has received less than 3 negative pap smears within the last 7 years.
As long as you meet the eligibility requirements and get the annual screens done, then these services are free. The Pap smear test, lab work, pelvic exam, and breast exam are all free. The only way you will have to pay for these services is if you go to a doctor that does not accept Medicare assignment.
Healthcare has become costly over the years, so what could be better than free healthcare? These services are covered 100% by Medicare, which is one of the reasons to go get checked. The other more important reason to get checked is that the only way to prevent cervical or vaginal cancer, is to get screened. This way you can catch it early on before it develops into later stages. Something as simple as a pelvic exam and pap smear test can save a woman’s life. For women who are 65 and older, it is especially important to utilize these services so they can live a longer healthier life.