OpinionMay 29, 2024
Preventive care is key to staying healthy and saving costs. Medicare offers a range of free screenings and tests to catch issues early. 
Jackie Dover column (AGE SPOTS)
Jackie Dover
Jackie Dover

We all know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, meaning it is easier to prevent something from happening than it is to treat and fix the problem after the fact. That is very true about many things, especially ourselves. Having tests done or getting screenings for illness and disease can help catch things early, so the treatment and outcomes are more positive.

Medicare has placed an emphasis on preventive services; in the end, this saves Medicare money and helps beneficiaries catch issues earlier and remain healthier. Many of the Medicare preventive services are free. Check with your doctor to see which ones you need. Some services are available to everyone, while others are covered only if you have certain risk factors.

The first preventive service you get as a Medicare beneficiary is the “welcome to Medicare wellness visit” within the first 12 months of being on Medicare. This visit can include a health risk assessment and go over your medical and family history, height, weight and blood pressure. If you are behind on any health screenings, you will be advised on a schedule for them.

Consider this your baseline or starting point of your Medicare health journey. When making the appointment, you need to say you are scheduling your “welcome to Medicare wellness visit,” so Medicare can be billed correctly. Medicare also covers an annual “wellness” visit for those who have been on Medicare for over 12 months. This visit covers many of the same things in the new-to-Medicare visit. It makes sure you are on track and getting the tests and screenings needed.

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Other preventive services that are available, according to the Medicare.gov website, include: COVID-19 vaccines, flu shots, hepatitis B shots, pneumococcal shots, abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings, alcohol misuse screenings and counseling, blood-based biomarker tests, bone mass measurements, cardiovascular disease screenings, cardiovascular disease (behavioral therapy), cervical and vaginal cancer screenings, colorectal cancer screenings, counseling to prevent tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease, depression screenings, diabetes screenings, diabetes self-management training, glaucoma screenings, hepatitis B shots, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection screenings, hepatitis C screening tests, HIV screenings, lung cancer screenings, mammograms (screening), medical nutrition therapy services, Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, obesity behavioral therapy, one-time “welcome to Medicare wellness visit,” prostate cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted infections screenings and counseling.

Getting a few tests and screenings throughout the year could make the difference in preventing an illness or disease or catching it early. So, please see your doctor and get the screenings recommended to get your ounce of prevention.

If you would like more information on Medicare’s preventive services or other Medicare information, please call Aging Matters at (800) 392-8771 because aging matters.

JACKIE DOVER is the public information director of Aging Matters. Also known as Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging, it is a not-for-profit organization serving an 18-county area in Southeast Missouri, with the regional office in Cape Girardeau.

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