Welcome to 2017! It is still stunning how quickly the years go by. As Kenny Chesney sang, “Don’t Blink” or you’re likely to miss important stuff.
As I write this, everyone is preparing for the inauguration of a new President. Most of us don’t know a lot about what will happen, but it seems that one thing is certain: a lot of things will change, including health care.
With that in mind, I want to remind you of some free, preventive services that Medicare, in its current formation, provides. Perhaps it would be a good idea, if you are a Medicare recipient, to take advantage of these while they are still being provided, as we do not know exactly what the future will bring.
- Annual wellness exam – this is meant to help manage and prevent illness. This doctor’s office exam generally includes routine items such as height, weight, blood pressure, etc. There is also a review of medications and personalized health advice (lose weight, get a mammogram, etc.) The doctor will also review your vaccination history to make sure you are up to date with shots and vaccines.
- Flu shot – as you may know, the flu can be a life-threatening illness for older people. Medicare provides free flu shots once each flu season. Additionally, several other preventive shots are covered, including a pneumococcal vaccine (to prevent any type of infection caused by Strep pneumonia bacteria.) There are two types of this vaccine. Your doctor will know which one is most appropriate for you.
- Diabetes screening – Studies show there are many adults who have diabetes and don’t even realize it. Medicare covers costs for up to two blood screenings per year to detect diabetes in people who are at risk for this disease.
- Mammogram – Medicare covers this screening test for breast cancer (with no co-pay for retirees) once every 12 months.
- Depression screening – do you ever feel so down, and unable to bounce back that you wonder whether you may be clinically depressed? Medicare provides annual free depression screenings if the screenings are conducted in a doctor’s office or another primary care setting.
- Prostate cancer screening – Medicare covers the blood test that detects the amount of prostate specific antigen in the blood once every 12 months with no out-of-pocket costs.
Please take advantage of the above opportunities and guard your health and well-being. Hope that each of you, along with your families, enjoy a healthy and happy New Year.