Medicare Part B’s benefits include many preventive health-care services. To name just a few, these may include:
- Flu shots
- Colorectal cancer screenings
- Diabetes screenings
- Pneumococcal (pneumonia) shots
Part B is the medical insurance arm of Original Medicare, which also includes Part A (hospital insurance).
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, preventive health care is important to help avoid illness or manage a health problem before it becomes severe.
“Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit
Medicare begins your preventive health-care benefits when you’re first enrolled in Part B: you get a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit. Medicare Part B typically covers this visit once during the first 12 months you’re enrolled. This visit may include certain measurements and screenings, such as:
- Blood pressure
- Height and weight
- Basic vision test
- Certain vaccinations and screenings
- A health-care plan from your doctor that lists the services you need, such as a colorectal cancer screening, mammogram or prostate test, and shots
Preventive health care: wellness visits
After your first year as a beneficiary, Medicare Part B also covers a wellness visit every year. Your doctor will review your health history, current health status, and create a personalized prevention plan that lists the screenings and other preventive health care you need.
Other Part B preventive health-care services
Part B generally also covers the following preventive health-care services when provided by a doctor that accepts Medicare assignment:
- Screening for depression
- Colonoscopy (or other colorectal cancer screening): there are several types of tests, and Part B may cover them at certain intervals depending on the type of test, your age, and your health history.
- Bone density screening for people at risk for osteoporosis and meet certain conditions
- Diabetes screenings for people at risk for diabetes (or diagnosed with pre-diabetes)
- Obesity screening (to tell if you’re overweight) for anyone with a body mass index of 30 or higher
This is not a complete list – Part B generally covers a wide range of preventive health-care services. You might have to make a copayment or coinsurance payment, and the Part B deductible may apply.
Preventive health-care vaccinations
Medicare Part B may cover certain shots to help prevent diseases:
- Flu shot (usually one shot per flu season)
- Pneumococcal (pneumonia) shots
- Hepatitis B shots for those at medium to high risk of the disease
You generally don’t have to pay for these shots, as long as the health-care provider who gives them to you accepts Medicare assignment.
Medicare Part D is optional prescription drug coverage. It’s available either through a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. If you have either type of Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, it may cover certain preventive vaccinations, such as
- TDAP booster shot – to prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough)
- Shingles shot – to prevent shingles, which is a painful skin rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control
Ask your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for details about coverage.
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