One of the easiest and most important ways to achieve healthy aging is by anticipating and preventing chronic diseases before they become major health hazards. Fortunately, adults aged 65 or older who have Medicare Part B plans are entitled to 30 different health screenings and counseling services designed to do just that at low or no cost.
This article reviews 12 important screenings and services every Medicare Part B participant should seek out for a clearer view of their long-term health outlook.
“Welcome to Medicare” Preventative Visit
This service is available to all Medicare recipients within their first 12 months in the program, and includes a review of your medical history, weight, blood pressure and a simple vision test. Some patients may also receive an offer to discuss advance directives, which help determine your future medical care should you become too ill to make future decisions.
Taking advantage of this service is highly recommended, as it can help guide patients towards other more specific preventive treatments also covered by Medicare Part B.
Annual Wellness Exam
A wellness exam is an opportunity for your doctor to determine a baseline picture of your health when you are not actively ill. This can make future medical recommendations more accurate and better tailored to your specific needs.
Wellness visits also include a review of your current medications – a critical tool for avoiding negative drug interactions and ending treatments that are no longer relevant to or may actually hinder your long-term health.
Cardiovascular Disease Screening & Behavioral Therapy
Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death amongst older Americans, but early detection and screening of these hazards can have a tremendous impact on long-term health. Medicare Part B offers free heart health screening once every five years, and annual behavioral therapy meetings with your doctor to discuss ways you can lower your risk of future cardiovascular challenges.
Colon Cancer Screenings
All adults aged 50 or more should be screened for colon cancer at regular intervals. Medicare Part B covers colonoscopies and related services, however, the frequency for these screenings is determined by an individual’s specific risk factors for colon cancer. Staying up-to-date on annual wellness checks is a critical tool to ensuring your risk level remains accurate over time.
Bone Mass Measurements
Losing bone mass due to osteoporosis leads to a higher risk of fractured or broken bones. This issue can impact future mobility and increase the chances of further illness due to long recovery times. Medicare Part B offers free bone mass screenings every two years, allowing doctors to make behavioral recommendations that can lower the loss of bone mass.
Clinical depression can have a major impact on an individual’s long-term health outlook, and the Centers for Disease Control have found that it is often underreported amongst older adults. Medicare Part B offers a free depression screening in your primary care physician’s office once a year to identify possible depression, and link patients to further resources and treatment specializing in helping people overcome this challenge.
Diabetes Screening and Self-Management
Diabetes impacts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, and can have major impacts on long term health without proper management.
Medicare Part B users can receive free screenings once per year if they have no early indicators, or once every six months if a previous screening finds the individual has signs of pre-diabetes.
In the event diabetes is found, the individual can receive up to 10 hours of training from their physician in how to manage their diabetes, self-monitor and make behavioral changes to limit the impact of diabetes within a year of their diagnosis, and two additional hours of training every following year. While deductibles and copays apply to these services, they can be extremely valuable for long-term health.
Medicare Part B participants can receive a free flu shot once every flu season through their primary care physician, providing protection against the most common strains in circulation for a given year.
Medicare Part B participants aged 35 to 39 are entitled to one baseline mammogram at no cost, while participants aged 40 and older are entitled to one free screening annually.
PAP Test Screenings
Women with Medicare Part B coverage considered to be at low risk for cervical and vaginal cancer can receive a free screening through their OBGYN once every two years, while those with higher risk factors can be screened for free annually.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Male Medicare Part B participants aged 50 or older are entitled to one free blood test annually to detect early warning signs of prostate cancer, however a digital rectal exam may incur a copay of roughly 20 percent of the service’s overall cost.
The CDC has recorded significant increases in Sexually Transmitted Diseases amongst older Americans for several years. These diseases can have significant long-term health impacts if not found and treated promptly.
Fortunately, Medicare Part B provides one free screening per year, as well as two 30-minute meetings with the patient’s primary care physician annually to provide guidance on how to change sexual behaviors to lower an individual’s overall risk.
Preventative health care and screenings are some of the best tools available to ensure a positive long-term health outlook, but like all tools, they only work when used. Medicare Part B benefits refresh every calendar year, so scheduling these screenings early in the year is a great strategy to ensure individuals are able to take advantage of these opportunities early and often.
If you or a loved one struggles with a chronic condition, staying ahead on screening appointments, or needs assistance attending medical appointments like those outlined above, home health care may be the solution they need.
SelectCare’s team of home health care experts specializes in coordinating with a client’s healthcare network to ensure a seamless flow of information, while in-home caregivers provide the support and reassurance needed to age with confidence.