Nearly 70% of people aged 65 and older have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. High blood pressure is a major health risk that can lead to multiple problems, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and even death. Monitoring your blood pressure is important for preventing serious conditions from occurring or getting worse. Medicare will cover blood pressure checks done at your doctor’s office, but does it cover home monitors?
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood as it flows through the arteries. As you age, blood pressure rises due to the narrowing and stiffening of your arteries. You can also develop high blood pressure because of your lifestyle or from taking certain medications. There are lifestyle modifications that can help lower your blood pressure, including:
- Exercising at least 150 minutes each week
- Losing weight, if you are overweight
- Eating less sodium, no more than 2,300 milligrams a day
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking
Home Blood Pressure Monitors
There are 2 different types of blood pressure monitors that you can use at home:
- Blood pressure cuffs– these are what you typically see in the doctor’s office. The pressure cuff goes around your upper arm and fills with air to squeeze your arm and stop blood flow through the artery. You then have to listen to the blood flow with a stethoscope (just like a nurse or doctor does).
- Ambulatory blood pressure monitors (ABPMs) – This device is a cuff you wear on your arm continuously for 24-48 hours.
What Medicare Covers
Medicare generally does not cover home blood pressure monitors; it covers blood pressure monitoring done by a healthcare professional, with a few exceptions. Medicare Part A covers blood pressure monitoring during an inpatient hospital stay. Medicare Part B covers blood pressure checks at your doctor’s office, and might pay for a home blood pressure monitor if it is deemed medically necessary in the following situations:
- Your doctor has recommended you use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor (ABPM) because they suspect you have received an inaccurate reading in their office. Many people experience “white coat syndrome, ” meaning that they get nervous in a doctors office and their blood pressure rises. Others might experience “masked hypertension,” meaning their blood pressure is lower in the doctor’s office than it normally is. The ABPM will allow you to track your blood pressure readings in 24-hour cycles in the comfort of your own home.
- You are on kidney dialysis in your home. Taking blood pressure readings during dialysis is important: high blood pressure causes chronic kidney disease, and can decrease the kidney’s ability to flush toxins from the body.
If it is deemed medically necessary, Medicare Part B will pay for 80% of blood pressure cuffs, and 80% of the rental cost for ambulatory blood pressure monitors. You will be responsible for the remaining 20% out of pocket. Make sure the monitor is from a Medicare-certified medical equipment supplier; other suppliers will charge more than the Medicare-approved amount, leaving you to pay the difference.
If you are unable to pay the 20% of medical expenses that Medicare does not cover, a Medicare Supplement Plan can help. Medicare Supplement Plans will cover out-of-pocket expenses such as copays, coinsurance and more, so that you can save on healthcare costs. If you are in need of extra coverage for services that Medicare only partially pays for, a Medicare Supplement Plan might be right for you. There are 10 different plans to choose from that offer different levels of coverage at different price points.
An EZ agent can compare plans in minutes and find you one that is affordable and that meets your needs, both medically and financially. To get free quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak with one of our licensed agents, call 888-753-7207. No hassle, and no obligation. Just free guidance to help you save money.