- Written by Lorraine York-Edberg, Western Mass Regional SHINE Program Director
- Published: 12 July 2018
Are you using Medicare’s free preventive services to stay healthy?
Preventative services are an easy and great way to stay healthy. Medicare has been offering free preventive services for over 20 years and has increased benefits to help prevent illness. Paying attention to your body and keeping up to date on your preventive services will help find health problems early, when treatments work best. Things like exams, lab work, screenings, monitoring and counseling are all part of the services offered. Medicare provides and pays for a number of preventive services through Part B of Medicare. Many of these services are FREE whether you have traditional Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, like an HMO or PPO.
Free services include:
Welcome to Medicare preventive visit
Medicare covers a one-time preventive visit within the first 12 months that you have Medicare Part B.
All Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for an annual preventive wellness visit. Not to be confused with full physical examinations, these are prevention-focused visits to provide an overview of your health and medical risk factors and serve as a baseline for future care.
Colorectal cancer screening
The fecal occult blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy is available to all beneficiaries age 50 or older.
All women with Medicare ages 40 and older can get a free breast cancer screening mammogram every year.
Pap tests and pelvic exams
These cervical and vaginal cancer screenings are available every two years, or once a year for those at high risk.
Prostate cancer screenings
Annual PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood tests are available to all male beneficiaries age 50 and older.
Free blood tests to check cholesterol, lipid and triglyceride levels are offered every five years to all Medicare recipients.
Screening is available twice a year for those at risk.
Bone mass measurements
This osteoporosis test is available every two years to those at risk, or more often if medically necessary.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
To check for bulging blood vessels, this test is available to men, if they are at risk due to a family history or men ages 65 to 75 who have ever smoked.
An annual flu shot, a vaccination against pneumonia and the hepatitis B vaccine are all free to all beneficiaries.
In addition, Medicare also offers free smoking cessation counseling, medical nutrition therapy to help beneficiaries with diabetes or kidney disease, depression screenings, alcohol screening and counseling, obesity screening and counseling, annual cardiovascular risk reduction visits, sexually transmitted infection screening and counseling, and HIV screenings.
Click here for a complete list of free preventive services. We have the most updated copies of the “Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services” available at our regional office and would be happy to mail a copy to those who are interested. Please contact us at the number below to get your copy.
The SHINE program (Serving Health Information Needs of Everyone…on Medicare) provides free, confidential and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555 or contact your local council on aging.