Four years ago or so, my physician recommended a colonoscopy. It was my first and it cost me a fortune – at least, by my retired income standards. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA, health care reform, Obamacare – whatever you choose to call it), Medicare pays for this exam along with other colon cancer preventive tests.
That is, if you have original Medicare with Part B coverage and your physician accepts Medicare assignment. People enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs need to consult their provider.
Be aware, on the colon exam, that if polyps are found and removed during a colonoscopy, there will be costs to you for the removal procedure.
As of 1 January 2011, many new preventive tests are free or available for a small copay under Medicare, but nowhere near enough people know this or are taking advantage of them. This is an overview for you with links to helpful Medicare pages.
WELCOME TO MEDICARE PREVENTIVE VISIT
If you are new to Medicare, you are entitled to an initial, comprehensive wellness exam to review your medical history and a number of preventive tests that will help you and your doctor create a plan to keep you healthy.
This is a free visit with no deductible or copay, but must be done within 12 months of joining Medicare. More information here.
ANNUAL WELLNESS VISIT
After that first visit, you are entitled to a yearly examination without cost. This applies even if you did not have the initial visit during your first year on Medicare.
Covers cholesterol, lipid and tryglyceride levels which are free.
You pay nothing for an annual flu shot nor for the pneumococcal shot which most people need only once in their lifetime. The three-shot Hepatitis B course is also available free for those with medium to high risk.
BONE MASS MEASUREMENT
This is free for people at risk for osteoporosis or who have certain medical conditions.
DIABETES SCREENING, SUPPLIES AND SELF-MANAGEMENT TRAINING
The screenings are free. You pay 20 percent of the cost for supplies and training.
MEDICAL NUTRITIONAL TRAINING
Free for people with diabetes, renal disease and those who have had a kidney transplant within the past three years.
These are available for people whose physicians say they are at high risk. There is a 20 percent copay.
TOBACCO USE CESSATION COUNSELING
Up to eight free sessions per year for people who have no tobacco-related illness.
Medicare pays for this test once a year, but you usually pay 20 percent of the cost of the doctor visit.
Mammograms, Pap smears and pelvic exams for vaginal and cervical cancer are free.
Both digital and PSA exams are covered. There is a 20 percent cost for the first; the PSA is free.
This list is a brief overview. At the Medicare website, there is a more detailed, 28-page booklet titled, Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services [pdf] that is worth downloading or printing.
FREE HEALTH SCREENINGS – NO APPOINTMENT
AARP and Walgreens are sponsoring a “Wellness Bus Tour” in more than 3,000 cities throughout the U.S. – including Puerto Rico – where anyone 18 and older can get the following tests free:
- Total cholesterol levels
- Blood pressure
- Bone density
- Glucose levels
- Waist circumference
- Body mass index
You get the results instantly and certified health professionals will explain the results.
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