What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexual transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. You can get it through contact with the mouth, vagina, penis, or anus of an infected person, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). Gonorrhea is very common, with about 330,000 new cases in the U.S. each year, according to NIH. Complications of gonorrhea in people that have not received timely gonorrhea treatment can result in joint infections, heart valve infections, and meningitis, a brain infection. Gonorrhea can also can result in infertility in both women and men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Medicare may cover testing for gonorrhea as well as prescription drugs for gonorrhea treatment.
What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?
Some people who have gonorrhea do not have symptoms and do not seek gonorrhea treatment, according to the National Institute of Health. Symptoms often appear 2 to 5 days after infection but in men symptoms may take up to a month to appear.
According to the NIH, symptoms can differ in men and women.
In men symptoms of gonorrhea might include:
- Pain when urinating
- White, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
- Tender or swollen testicles
- Red or swollen opening of the penis
- Sore throat
In women symptoms of gonorrhea might include:
- Pain when urinating
- Sore throat
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Severe pain in the lower abdomen
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
Gonorrhea in women may also result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) when it spreads to the uterus or fallopian tubes, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) PID can cause damage and scarring that makes a woman unable to get pregnant.
Is gonorrhea preventable?
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), you are more likely to develop gonorrhea if you have many sex partners and if you have a partner with a past history of any sexually transmitted infection. You also increase your risk if you do not use a condom during sex and if you abuse alcohol or illegal substances. To help prevent gonorrhea you can avoid vaginal, anal, or oral sex completely or correctly use a condom if you do have sex, advises the NIH. You also can reduce your risk by having a long-term, mutually monogamous partner that has tested negative for gonorrhea.
What type of gonorrhea treatment does Medicare cover?
The first step to getting gonorrhea treatment may be to get a gonorrhea test. You may want to get a gonorrhea test even if you do not have symptoms of gonorrhea. Knowing you have gonorrhea and seeking gonorrhea treatment might reduce your chances of complications and of passing on the infection to another person, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). A gonorrhea test can be performed on urine samples or less commonly, samples taken from the cervix, vagina, urethra, anus, or throat, according to NIH. Gonorrhea tests are rarely performed with a blood sample.
Medicare Part B (Medical insurance) generally covers STI screenings for gonorrhea as well as several other sexually transmitted infections. People with Medicare Part B who are pregnant are generally eligible for gonorrhea tests. People who are at an increased risk for a STI who have the test ordered by a primary care practitioner are also generally eligible for Medicare gonorrhea tests. You may pay nothing for a gonorrhea test if your primary care practitioner accepts Medicare assignment.
If you test positive for gonorrhea, you may need prescription drug gonorrhea treatment. Because a gonorrhea infection is caused by bacteria, it can be treated and cured with antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When you are prescribed an antibiotic for gonorrhea treatment, you should be sure to finish the medication to be sure that you are cured, according to the CDC. The CDC also reports that the strains of drug-resistant gonorrhea are increasing.
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) generally doesn’t cover prescription drugs like the antibiotics needed for gonorrhea treatment. To get cover for these antibiotics you usually will need Part D coverage through a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan or a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Both types of plans are sold by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. The exact coverage of a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan depends on its formulary, which may vary from plan to plan. A formulary is a list of prescription drugs a plan covers. A formulary may change from time to time but the plan must inform you when it does.
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