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Few senior discounts are worth as much as the savings you get through Medicare health insurance.
Medicare is not free — there are premiums, deductibles and copays. But it does entitle policyholders to various “freebies.” By our count, there are at least 22.
These freebies are preventive services ranging from annual wellness visits to flu shots and cancer screenings. So, redeeming them will save you money — and possibly protect you from future medical conditions and costs. They could even save your life.
Under Original Medicare, the following services are free to all beneficiaries:
- “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit (includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health and education, and counseling about various preventive services)
- Annual “Wellness” visits (includes developing or updating a personalized prevention help plan)
- Annual behavioral therapy visit for cardiovascular disease, which is to help you lower your risk for cardiovascular disease (heart-related conditions)
- Screening for cardiovascular disease (includes blood tests for cholesterol, lipid and triglyceride levels)
- Screening for depression
- Vaccination for the flu
- Vaccination for pneumococcal infections, which include certain types of pneumonia
Under Original Medicare, the following services are free to eligible beneficiaries. Eligibility varies by test but often involves being within a certain age range or having a higher risk for a medical condition.
- Vaccination for hepatitis B
- Bone density test
- Screening for diabetes
- Screening for hepatitis C
- Screening for HIV
- Screening for lung cancer
- Screening for colorectal cancer (can include a colonoscopy or other types of tests)
- Screening for prostate cancer (includes a prostate specific antigen, or PSA, blood test)
- Screening mammograms
- Screening and counseling for alcohol misuse
- Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (includes an ultrasound)
- Screening for cervical and vaginal cancers (includes Pap test, pelvic exam and breast exam)
- Screening and counseling for sexually transmitted infections
- Medical nutrition therapy
- Screening for obesity and counseling
Patients do not owe copays or other out-of-pocket costs for these services. However, before redeeming these freebies, know that they are free:
- For folks with what’s known as Original Medicare. Costs might differ for people with Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by private health insurers.
- When obtained from a health care provider who “accepts assignment.” This is jargon that basically means the provider has signed an agreement accepting Medicare’s payment conditions.
- When obtained at a certain frequency, which varies. For example, Medicare beneficiaries can get a free flu shot once every flu season but can only get a free screening for heart disease once every five years.
- For folks who are eligible for them. Some Medicare freebies are available to all beneficiaries, but most freebies are available to folks in certain situations.
Using Medicare’s websites
Note that you can use Medicare.gov’s “Your Medicare Coverage” search tool to determine whether services or supplies are covered by Medicare and get an idea of what they would cost you — including whether they are free.
Logging into your MyMedicare.gov account will give you access to more personalized information, including a calendar of the free tests and screenings for which you are eligible. You’ll find this in the “My Health” section.
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