Free Preventative Care Screenings Available Thru Medicare

If you or a loved one are enrolled in Medicare, you might want to take advantage of some of the free preventive care screenings now available. Starting this year, seniors enrolled in Medicare no longer have to pay for more than a dozen tests and other preventive health care services. These benefits, which also include an annual wellness exam, are part of the new federal health-care law.

But big crowds are not lining up for the free mammograms or colonoscopies. Why not? Well, honestly, some of the tests are unpleasant and most people would prefer not to undergo a colonoscopy – even if it is free. However, according to a recent Kaiser Health News article, it also could be that most Medicare enrollees don’t know about the free services. Medicare’s information about these benefits isn’t easily accessible, and can be confusing.

In addition, some of those who have taken advantage of the “free services,” have been unpleasantly surprised to receive hefty bills. According to a separate Kaiser Health News article, although screening colonoscopies are free, you can get an unexpected bill afterward. This is because the colonoscopy is free only as long as it is preventative.

“If a patient with no symptoms goes in for a screening colonoscopy and the gastroenterologist finds no pre-cancerous or cancerous polyps, everyone agrees that Medicare and commercial insurers are required to cover the expensive test 100 percent. But when the doctor removes a polyp, some insurers apply charges– meaning the insurer pays less of the bill.”

To find out more about the free services, you can consult the Medicare website and their (48-page) handbook.

Not all insurers are imposing the charges. According to the Kaiser Health article, Aetna, Cigna, Group Health Cooperative, Humana, United Healthcare and Wellpoint/Anthem all said members pay no cost-sharing when a polyp is found. However, before scheduling any “free tests,” you might want to check with your insurance provider about how they treat the procedure should anything be found.

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