Medicare Patients Eligible For Preventive Benefits

Millions of Americans with Medicare have health benefits that they may not have heard about yet as part of health care reform.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included a long list of covered preventive services, including screenings for breast cancer, diabetes, prostate and colorectal cancers. And, the preventive services must be are provided without a copayment or co-insurance charge.

One of the concerns is that Americans are not receiving the preventive care and screenings they need. By offering the services at no costs to the patient, it is believed that lives can be saved and the cost of care can be reduced if serious health issues like diabetes, heart disease and cancer are diagnosed sooner.

One of benefits is that every Medicare recipient is entitled to an annual physical examination. New Medicare recipients also receive an initial "wellness" exam. Here is a partial list of the tests and preventive screenings now available without copayments or deductibles:

• Pneumonia, influenza, hepatitis B, herpes zoster (shingles) vaccinations

• Screening mammography

• Screening pap smear and screening pelvic examination

• Digital rectal examination for prostate cancer

• Colorectal cancer screening

• Diabetes screening

• Diabetes outpatient self-management training

• Bone mass measurement

• Glaucoma screening

• Cardiovascular screening blood test

• Ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm

• HIV testing

• Obesity screening and counseling

• Blood pressure screening

• Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages

• Tobacco cessation

• Standard childhood vaccinations

Another major change for Medicare recipients in the Affordable Care Act was relief for those who slipped into the "donut hole" because of their medications. Patients on Medicare now receive a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs they need while in the donut hole, and will start to pay less for generic drugs.

Medicare patients can visit the Medicare website or call 1-800-MEDICARE for more information on their preventive care available to them. They can also discuss their preventive needs with their primary care physician.