New Preventive Benefits that Help Medicare Beneficiaries Stay Healthy

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It’s 2012, and to help people fulfill their New Year’s resolutions to lead healthier lives, the Medicare Rights Center wants to remind Medicare beneficiaries of the new and existing preventive services that are available to them at no cost.  Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) added five new preventive benefits to its roster of free services for Medicare beneficiaries. The new preventive services include:

  • Annual depression screening for all Medicare beneficiaries;
  • Intensive obesity screening and behavioral counseling to help Medicare beneficiaries who are obese lose weight and sustain weight loss through proper diet and exercise;
  • Annual cardiovascular screening, which gives primary care providers the opportunity to screen for high blood pressure, provide counseling around maintaining a healthy diet, and when appropriate, recommend taking aspirin;
  • Annual alcohol misuse screening for all Medicare beneficiaries, as well as counseling sessions for individuals found to be misusing alcohol; and
  • STD/STI screening for Medicare beneficiaries that fit certain risk factors.

“Preventive services are an integral part of high-quality, patient-centered health care, especially for older adults and people with disabilities,” says Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “Because of efforts by CMS to effectively implement the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare are able to better access preventive services and save money.”

In addition to accessing these new preventive benefits, Medicare beneficiaries will continue to be able to receive those free preventive benefits added in 2011, including mammograms, colonoscopies and the Annual Wellness Visit. Learn more about Medicare preventive benefits on Medicare Interactive. Beneficiaries can also call the Medicare Rights Center national consumer helpline at 800-333-4114 for help with Medicare questions or problems.

Medicare beneficiaries will not pay any coinsurance or deductible for these preventive services. Beneficiaries with Medicare private health plans, otherwise known as Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, will also pay no out-of-pocket costs for these preventive services if they see network doctors. However, cost-sharing may apply if the primary care provider makes a diagnosis during a service or does additional tests or procedures..

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