Medicare helps to cover hospital stays, doctor visits and prescription drugs for adults aged 65 and over. But some of its most profitable advantages are also the most rarely used. It offers a series of preventive screening, consultancy and other services, in many cases without additional costs, to help you better manage your health and improve your quality of life without reducing your budget. Here are five of these benefits that you should consider.
1. Annual wellness visits
Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to a free wellness visit per year. Your doctor will evaluate your weight, blood pressure and general health. You can also be evaluated for signs of Alzheimer's or dementia.
These checks can let you know about your health problems before they become serious, so you can correct them. Understanding health risks and making some simple lifestyle changes could make the difference between staying healthy in old age or sustaining high medical costs for preventable diseases.
2. Advice on obesity and smoking
Smoking and obesity contribute significantly to heart disease and diabetes. Smoking can also lead to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and many other diseases. These conditions can cost you a fortune in medical treatments and prescription drugs and, more importantly, they can shorten your life.
Under Medicare, you can consult a professional for these conditions. But there are restrictions. Obesity counseling is free only for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. And while Medicare will pay for smoking cessation counseling, it does not cover the cost of nicotine patches, lozenges or gums to help you quit smoking.
3. Hospital assistance
You may be entitled to free hospital care if you are given six months or less to live. This can alleviate the burden on your family's finances while making your last few days comfortable. Medicare sets limits, however, on what types of facilities can benefit from hospital care coverage.
In addition to taking care of your physical well-being during this period, Medicare will also cover pain counseling for you and your family members so that you can all deal with the impending loss.
4. Projections of diseases
Medicare will pay for disease screening if your doctor determines that you are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis B or C, HIV or some types of cancer. You will have to pay some of your own care if you find that you have one of these diseases, but you don't have to send the doctor back to be tested just because of the cost. Your prognosis with many of these diseases is better if detected earlier, so take advantage of these free screenings if you feel you are at risk for one of these health problems.
Medicare will also pay for a hearing test if the doctor states that it is medically necessary. But if it is something you are doing of your choice, you will have to pay the exam yourself.
5. Some medical equipment
Medicare covers some durable medical equipment, including wheelchairs, oxygen cylinders, blood glucose monitors, walkers and even hospital beds. Strangely, it faces one of the most commonly used pieces of durable medical equipment: hearing aids. Medicare does not cover them at all, so you need to pay them out of your own pocket or look for other types of coverage that can help you pay the costs.
Everyone likes to take advantage of free services. And some of these Medicare services listed above could help you save money, live longer and healthier lives and prevent future expensive medical costs. Take advantage of the annual wellness visit if you haven't already done so and ask your doctor about any of the other services mentioned here that might apply.