Ounces of Prevention

Published January 1, 2005

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 means Medicare will pay for a preventative physical exam for new enrollees. It’s called the Welcome to Medicare Physical Exam.

Make a note: Medicare covers this exam only if it is performed within the first six months after enrolling.

New to the list of preventive services covered by Medicare are costs related to kicking the cigarette habit and cardiovascular screening. This test includes an electrocardiogram and checks for cholesterol and other blood fat levels. Also new, screening for early detection of diabetes.

Already covered are colorectal cancer exams. The exact tests, and how often tests are given, depend on a patient’s age and risk for colorectal cancer.

Medicare covers diabetic test strips and the blood glucose monitoring device for all individuals with diabetes, regardless of whether they are insulin-treated.

Patients at high risk for glaucoma, including people with diabetes or a family history of glaucoma, are eligible for screening every 12 months.

Women 40 years of age and older are eligible for an annual breast-cancer screening. Medicare also will cover one mammogram for Medicare-eligible women between the ages of 35 and 40.

Pap smears and pelvic exams are covered once every 24 months.

Men over 50 are eligible for a digital exam and annual PSA test.

Vaccinations for hepatitis B, influenza, and pneumonia are covered.

Call 1 800 MEDICARE for more information.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.