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What Preventive Services Are Covered By Medicare

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Medicare Preventive & Screening Services

“Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit When you make your appointment, tell your doctor’s office you want to schedule your “Welcome to Medicare” exam. This is a one-time only visit within the first 12 months you have Medicare Part B.

Yearly wellness visit This visit is not a routine annual physical exam – Medicare does not cover routine physicals. If you’ve had Medicare Part B for longer than 12 months, you can then get a yearly wellness visit every 12 months to develop or update a personalized prevention plan.

Your Welcome To Medicare Visit

As the name implies, your Welcome to Medicare visit is something you schedule within the first 12 months that you have Medicare. At this visit, your doctor will go over your health and medical history, discuss your lifestyle and home welfare, and plan your future care, including preventive care. Typically, however, you do not receive preventive care at this visit it is primarily a get-to-know-you interaction.

Your Welcome to Medicare visit may include:

  • A simple vision test
  • Discussions about creating advance directives
  • Advice and counseling on disease prevention and overall health maintenance

The Welcome to Medicare visit is free of charge to you, meaning it doesnt require any Medicare Part B coinsurance or copays, and it doesnt count toward your Part B deductible. It is only covered one time, and the appointment must be held within the first 12 months of enrolling in Medicare Part B.

Evidence Of Benefits From Early Detection Of Skin Cancer Through Screening

The best evidence of benefit from skin cancer screening would come from a prospective randomized clinical trial that randomly selected people to be screened or not screened and then followed both groups long enough for differential outcomes to be evident. Because cancer screening trials typically require very large study populations, long follow-up periods, and significant administrative complexities, they usually have been undertaken only for cancers that affect many people and cause major mortality and morbidity.

The committee identified no randomized trials of clinical skin cancer screening. Discussions during the committee’s June 1999 workshop indicated that such a clinical trial would require from one-half million to one million participants and would not likely be funded in the United States. The committee heard that a trial is underway in Australia involving at least 500,000 people in 60 communities that have been randomly assigned to have a screening program established or to continue with current care. Current care includes intensive education and awareness campaigns for both the general population and the health professions. The study was reported to be in its first year of a 10-year follow-up period.

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Estimated Costs To Medicare Of Extending Coverage

As discussed in , the cost estimation approach used by the committee follows the generic practices employed by the Congressional Budget Office in making estimates for Congress. A more detailed presentation of the committee’s cost estimates appears in , which was prepared by the Lewin Group in consultation with the committee and background paper authors. To illustrate how Medicare costs would be affected by different skin cancer screening strategies and behaviors, the committee developed estimates for the three models of screening described earlier. As summarized in and explained below, for the five-year period 2000 to 2004, net estimated costs to Medicare range from about $150 million for the most limited screening scenario to about $900 million dollars for the most expansive.

Summary of Estimated Costs to Medicare for Covering a New Program of Screening Asymptomatic Beneficiaries for Skin Cancer. Screening Strategy Assumptions Case Finding Approach 1. 30% of beneficiaries are screened each year by total skin examination during

Why Is Preventive Care Important


Preventive care is vital for staying healthy as we get older. Aging brings increased risks of disease such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. These illnesses can greatly impact your health and lead to diminished quality of life. By combining preventive care with regular exercise and a balanced diet, you can have peace of mind that youre doing everything you can to remain healthy.

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Preventive Services Under Medicare Advantage Plans

COVID-19 Update: With social distancing and stay-at-home orders, many seniors are struggling with loneliness and isolation. Weve developed a list of products that caregivers or seniors can purchase to help older adults stay happy, healthy and connected, whether they are aging in place at home or in an assisted living community.

Preventative care services are important for everyone, especially seniors. The risk for health problems increases with age, and by preventing problems or identifying them early, seniors can enjoy longer, healthier lives. Some preventative services that are particularly important for older adults include annual wellness exams, influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, and screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, osteoporosis and certain cancers.

Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for preventative care services, though coverage details vary widely from one plan to another. Before enrolling in a plan, seniors should understand a plans preventative care coverage details, particularly if they are at an increased risk for developing conditions like high blood pressure or osteoporosis.

In this guide, weve outlined how Medicare Advantage plans work, how to know what a Medicare Advantage plan covers and some of seniors most frequently asked questions about their healthcare coverage through Medicare Advantage.

Chronic Care Management Services

Medicare might cover a doctor to help you manage two or more chronic severe conditions if those conditions are going to last a year. There might be a monthly fee the Part B deductible and coinsurance apply. Chronic care management can help you manage conditions like arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, osteoporosis, diabetes, and mental health conditions.

The doctor will help you manage your medication, prepare a care plan, and provide you with 24/7 urgent care access. Talk to your doctor about chronic care management services.

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Covered Preventive Services That Include Cost

  • Diabetes self-management training, for people at risk of diabetes complications. Youll pay your Part B deductible if you havent already met it for the year , plus 20 percent of Medicares cost for the training.
  • Diagnostic mammogram . Youll pay your Part B deductible if you havent already met it for the year, plus 20 percent of the cost of the screening.
  • Digital rectal exam for prostate cancer .
  • Glaucoma test if you are at risk. Youll pay your part B deductible if you havent already met it for the year, plus 20 percent of the cost of the screening. A copay may also apply if the screening is conducted in a hospital outpatient setting.

If youre enrolled in a Medigap plan, it may pay some or all of the Part B charges incurred for these services.

Medicare Mammogram And Breast Cancer Screening

What Does Medicare Part B Cover?: Preventive Services Overview!

Women over 40 need an annual mammogram screening to detect any abnormal tissue or breast cancer. Also, a woman qualifies for one baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 and 39. Men dont qualify for preventive mammogram screenings. But, if a doctor finds an abnormality or lump, Medicare will cover diagnostic testing.

The risk of developing breast cancer increases if any of these apply:

  • Never had a baby
  • Had your first baby after age 30
  • You had breast cancer in the past
  • Family history of breast cancer

Medicare covers 100% of the cost of breast cancer screenings. Those with Medicare Advantage coverage have the same benefits as those with Medicare but, you may need to see an in-network doctor.

Diagnostic mammograms will cost you 20% after you meet the Part B deductible. Those with Medicare Advantage plans will pay the plans cost-sharing amount.

If you have Medigap, the diagnostic mammogram cost could be little to nothing, depending on your policy. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women in America.

With age, the risks increase. Medicare covers mammogram screenings and digital technologies to check for breast cancer.

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What Preventive And Screening Services Are Covered By Medicare

By Dave Miller

A healthy lifestyle is the key to staying vibrant and strong into your golden years. But eating right, getting plenty of exercise and avoiding bad habits is only part of the solution. Seniors need to be proactive when it comes to maintaining health and well-being. Luckily, Medicare offers a variety of preventive care and screening services that are included as part of your benefits package.

Preventive services are designed to prevent you from getting sick or ill. Typically, they include exams, lab tests, shots and screenings that help detect problems early on when treatment is most successful. In addition, preventive care includes counseling that can help seniors make more informed decisions about lifestyle choices as they age. If youre looking to learn what preventive and screening services Medicare covers, the following information can help.

What Preventive Services Medicare Covers

Medicare Part B covers a wide range of preventive services. Among the most common provided to patients by practices are as follows :

  • Advance Care Planning*
  • Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease
  • IBT for Obesity
  • Lung Cancer Screening Counseling and Annual Screening for Lung Cancer With Low Dose Computed Tomography

* While advance care planning is not technically a preventive service, it is often spoken about as if it is such a service and is treated as a preventive service in reimbursement policy.

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Assessment Approach: Intervention Population And Outcomes

Following the general approach set forth in , the committee began by defining the specific procedures or activities that constitute skin cancer screening. As described in , skin cancer screening may rely on a case-finding strategy, when a person seeing a health care professional for another reason is offered a total skin examination . Such screening may focus on all people or only those identified as high-risk. Another strategy involves mass screening in which people are invited and self-select to undergo a total skin examination by a health care professional and then are referred to their primary care physician or a specialist for follow-up.

The committee considered two case-finding approaches to screening for skin cancer in addition to the mass screening approach just described. The first case-finding approach involves a visual examination of the entire skin and a patient history to identify risk factors such as family history of skin cancer, level and frequency of sun exposure, or recent change in a mole. The other case-finding strategy separates the process into two phases, so that a total skin examination is offered only for those identified by their history as being at high risk of skin cancer. The committee also considered a mass screening approach as a third approach. In all approaches, those with lesions identified as suspicious for skin cancer are offered biopsies.

Evidence pyramid for assessing a screening intervention. SOURCE: Adapted from IOM/NRC 1999, p. 89.

Be Proactive With Your Preventive Care

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Summer means warmer weather, trips to the pool, and fun in the sun. Make sure you stay healthy enough to enjoy it all by being proactive with your health. Take advantage of the many preventive services that Medicare offers at no cost to you, like screenings, shots or vaccines, and yearly Wellness visits. And if you havent already, make sure to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Preventive services are important because they can help keep you from getting sick and find health problems early.

If youve had Part B for more than 12 months, you can get a yearly Wellness visit to develop or update a personalized prevention plan based on your current health and risk factors. This isnt a physical exam, and Medicare covers it once every 12 months.

Talk to your doctor or other health care provider about which preventive services you might need to help you stay healthy.Check out our complete list of Medicare-covered preventive services, and watch our video.

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Services Not Covered By Medicare

There are certain services that Original Medicare does not cover, including long-term care and medical care overseas.

Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan may provide coverage of routine vision, dental or hearing care. Beneficiaries in need of prescription drug coverage can enroll in a Medicare Part D plan.

Services Medicare Doesnt Cover

Long-Term Care
Medicare covers short-term stays in skilled nursing facilities as well as some home health care services. Medicare does not pay for long-term care, also known as custodial care. This includes extended stays in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Prescription Drugs
Limited outpatient prescription drugs are covered by Medicare Part B. You can enroll in a Medicare Part D plan to cover other prescriptions. Costs and what drugs are covered vary by plan.
Vision, Dental and Hearing
Original Medicare does not cover routine vision, dental and hearing services. This includes teeth cleanings, eye exams and hearing aids. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover these services. You also have the option to purchase a separate dental insurance policy, dental discount plan or vision insurance.
International Travel
Medicare only covers medical care outside of the United States in rare, emergency circumstances. Some Medicare Supplement plans may cover up to 80 percent of the billed charges for emergency services outside the U.S.

Preventative Services Covered By Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans cover all preventative services covered by Original Medicare, though unique coverage rules may apply. Preventative services covered include:

  • One-time Welcome to Medicare preventive visit
  • Annual wellness visits
  • A one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
  • Vaccines
  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
  • Bone mass measurements once every 24 months for those at risk of osteoporosis
  • Annual mammograms
  • Cardiovascular disease screening and risk reduction counseling
  • Cervical cancer screenings
  • Diabetes screening and self-management training
  • Glaucoma tests
  • Hepatitis B and C infection screening
  • Colon cancer screenings
  • Lung cancer screening
  • Smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling

Its important to note that many of these preventative services have their guidelines and eligibility requirements. For example, bone density screenings may only be covered at 100% for seniors who are at risk for osteoporosis.

Seniors who have Original Medicare receive these benefits with no cost-sharing obligations. For this reason, Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover preventive care services at 100%, as long as the enrollee sees an in-network healthcare provider. If the enrollee receives services from an out-of-network provider, charges typically apply, even if that provider accepts Medicare. Also, if diagnostic care is provided during a preventative visit, such as removing a polyp during a colonoscopy, charges may apply.

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Population Burden Of Disease

The skin cancers considered here are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. The latter two are often lumped together as nonmelanoma skin cancers, which also include other, far less common skin malignancies such Kaposi’s sarcoma and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. These uncommon conditions are not the focus of general skin cancer screening programs.

Melanomas originate in cells that can produce melanin, a pigment found in the skin, hair, eyes, and sometimes elsewhere. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma originate in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.

Possible Directions For Future Research

Medicare Free Preventative Services

The committee identified several areas where further research would be helpful, although it did not attempt to set priorities. As noted above, a randomized controlled trial of skin cancer screening is underway in Australia, although substantial results are years away. Also, the much higher incidence of skin cancer in Australia would have to be taken into account in assessing the study’s relevance to this country.

In the absence of evidence from controlled trials, it would be useful to have more research on the early stages of cancerous and precancerous lesions and their progression to more advanced states. Such research would help answer questions about how quickly different kinds of melanomas progress in different risk groups and about how likely it is that earlier detection of disease through a new program of clinical screening would make a difference in outcomes. More research would also be useful to understand how frequently and how quickly actinic keratoses develop into squamous cell carcinoma and what factors predict such progression.

More generally, in addition to research that could clarify the benefits, harms, and cost-effectiveness of clinical skin cancer screening and primary prevention programs, other interesting lines of investigation exist in the area of treatment. These include more effective chemotherapy for nonlocalized melanoma and vaccination or immunotherapy for melanoma.

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How Medicare Advantage Works

Medicare Advantage, which may also be referred to as Medicare Part C, provides an alternative way for older adults to get health insurance coverage. Rather than receiving healthcare coverage from the federal government, as those who enroll in Original Medicare Parts A and B do, seniors with Medicare Advantage plans receive benefits through private insurance companies that follow Medicares coverage rules. Medicare Advantage plans cover all Part A and Part B services, including preventative care, and some plans offer extra coverage for things like vision and dental, as well as expanded coverage for inpatient care in a hospital or nursing home setting.

Medicare Advantage plans set the amounts they charge for services, premiums and deductibles on an annual basis. Enrollees automatically pay the Original Medicare Part B premium, which is $148.50 in 2021. Unlike Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans have yearly out-of-pocket limits for Part A and Part B covered services. Once an enrollee reaches their maximum out-of-pocket limit, theyll pay nothing for covered services for the rest of the year.

Seniors may enroll in Medicare Advantage plans during the initial enrollment period, available when they turn 65, during the two annual enrollment periods or during the special enrollment period that opens if they lose coverage due to moving outside their current Medicare Advantage plans service area.

To be eligible for Medicare Advantage, seniors must:

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