The changes to Medicare for 2011 provide your loved one with several free prevention services. The idea is to catch major health problems early by lowering the cost for screenings.
The changes apply to everyone with Parts A and B. If your family member has a Medicare Advantage Plan, check with the plan itself about benefits for 2011.
Following is a sample of the services to be covered. Most are offered at no cost. Some require payment of 20% of the approved Medicare fee. Important: To get these savings, your family member must use a doctor who has signed on with Medicare.
Yearly wellness exam - An annual visit to look at current health issues. This is also a time to discuss personal risk factors and steps for preventing disease. Patients new to Medicare are entitled to a more extensive “welcome” exam within their first year of signing up.
Bone density screening - Bone mass evaluation every 24 months for persons at risk for brittle bones.
Cancer screening - Four types of tests are covered for colon or rectal cancer. For women, there are yearly mammograms. Plus, there is coverage for Pap smears, pelvic exams, and a physical breast exam every 24 months. For men, PSA tests and physical exams for prostate cancer are provided yearly (with a 20% fee).
Diabetes screening - Provided twice a year for at-risk individuals (with a 20% fee).
Flu/pneumonia prevention - Flu shots are covered annually. Anti-pneumonia shots are also covered and typically last a lifetime.
Prescription costs may also go down for your family member in 2011. If he or she reaches the “donut hole” coverage gap, the cost of brand-name drugs will drop 50%.