Free Medicare Services

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Certain preventive health benefits are now free to Medicare recipients.

Many Americans forgo preventive health services—like cholesterol screenings, blood pressure checks and other exams—because of the copays and other out-of-pocket costs associated with such services. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, now those with Medicare Part B who visit a participating provider can receive certain preventive services for free!

But beware, there’s a fine line between where the free services stop and where the bill in the mail arrives.

Free preventive services

Your first wellness visit with a participating Medicare provider is free of charge. A wellness visit is not a complete physical; rather, it is a basic exam that involves reviewing your medical and family history, recording any medications you may be taking, establishing your height, weight and body mass index (BMI), and developing a list of possible health risk factors that may need follow-up exams.

Recommended prevention services are also free of charge, such as colonoscopies, mammograms for women, bone-mass measurements, and tobacco cessation counseling.

Services not covered

Don’t mistake your first wellness visit as a free office exam with your doctor. Once you step beyond the boundaries of the wellness visit, such as discussing existing conditions or conducting a procedure outside the wellness services, you can expect to be charged. And only those preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are covered for Medicare beneficiaries.

Take advantage of your free benefits!

Don’t let the fear of a surprise bill deter you from receiving your free preventive benefits. You can avoid confusing by being clear when scheduling your appointment that you are requesting the covered first wellness visit. And talk with your doctor so you both understand what will and will not be covered during your appointment. You can also check Medicare.gov for a list of free services.

Source: Physicians Practice, Wall Street Journal, American Medical News, Healthcare.gov
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