Taking Advantage of Free Medicare Preventive Services

Reports & Statistics, Resources for Seniors

More than 25 million people covered by Original Medicare received at least one Medicare preventive service at no cost to them during the first eleven months of 2013 because of the Affordable Care Act, according to new data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Medicare Preventative Services

Seniors can receive important preventive services and screenings, such as an annual wellness visit, screening mammograms and colonoscopies, and smoking cessation at no cost to them.

 

Moreover, in the first eleven months of 2013, more than 3.5 million beneficiaries with Original Medicare took advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit established by the health care law – a significant increase from the 2.8 million who used this service by this point in the year in 2012.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of seniors have been able to receive important medicare preventive services and screenings such as an annual wellness visit, screening mammograms and colonoscopies, and smoking cessation at no cost to them,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Prevention and early detection are so vital to ensure that Americans are healthy and Medicare is healthy.”

Before the Affordable Care Act, Medicare recipients had to pay part of the cost for many preventive health services. For example, a person with Medicare could pay as much as $160 in cost-sharing for a colorectal cancer screening. Today, this important screening and many others are covered at no cost to beneficiaries (with no deductible or co-pay).

Preventive Visit and Yearly Wellness Exams

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers:

A “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit: You can get this introductory visit only within the first 12 months you have Part B. This visit includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health and education and counseling about preventive services, including certain screenings, shots, and referrals for other care, if needed. It also includes:

  • Height, weight, and blood pressure measurements
  • A calculation of your body mass index
  • A simple vision test
  • A review of your potential risk for depression and your level of safety
  • An offer to talk with you about creating advance directives.
  • A written plan letting you know which screenings, shots, and other preventive services you need. Get details about coverage for screenings, shots, and other preventive services.

 

This visit is covered one time. You don’t need to have this visit to be covered for yearly “Wellness” visits.

Yearly “Wellness” visits: If you’ve had Part B for longer than 12 months, you can get this visit to develop or update a personalized prevention help plan to prevent disease and disability based on your current health and risk factors. Your provider will ask you to fill out a questionnaire, called a “Health Risk Assessment,” as part of this visit. Answering these questions can help you and your provider develop a personalized prevention plan to help you stay healthy and get the most out of your visit. It also includes:

  • A review of your medical and family history
  • Developing or updating a list of current providers and prescriptions
  • Height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine measurements
  • Detection of any cognitive impairment
  • Personalized health advice
  • A list of risk factors and treatment options for you
  • A screening schedule (like a checklist) for appropriate preventive services. Get details about coverage for screenings, shots, and other preventive services.

 

This visit is covered once every 12 months (11 full months must have passed since the last visit).

Who’s eligible? All people with Medicare are covered.

Your costs in Original Medicare: You pay nothing for the “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit or the yearly “Wellness” visit if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts assignment. The Part B deductible doesn’t apply.

However, if your doctor or other health care provider performs additional tests or services during the same visit that aren’t covered under these preventive benefits, you may have to pay coinsurance , and the Part B deductible may apply.