Preventive services offered to Medicare recipients

Health screenings and counseling are offered free through the preventive services program for Medicare recipients in 2015. These services differ from diagnostic services provided when patients show distinct symptoms of a condition or have a history of the condition.
“Preventive services help patients and their physicians determine how to prevent many types of diseases and disabilities,” said Debbie Gillespie, outreach manager for CareLink. “Most are free to Medicare recipients who meet the criteria.”
Some preventive services for 2015 include:
  • Annual “wellness” visit – Free yearly visit to develop or update a prevention plan based on risk factors is available to Medicare recipients who have had Part B for longer than 12 months.
  • Breast cancer screening – Mammograms are covered once a year. 
  • PAP tests and pelvic exams – Free once every 24 months or once every 12 months for women at high risk.
  • Diabetes screening – Based on a free test, up to two screenings are allowed each year.
  • Diabetes self-management training – For people with diabetes; a copay is required.
  • Smoking cessation counseling – Four counseling sessions to stop smoking for people without smoking-related illnesses are offered for one or two quitting attempts per year.
  • Nutritional therapy services – Medical nutrition therapy and certain related services for those who have diabetes or kidney disease or who have had a kidney transplant in the last three months.
  • Vaccines – Flu shots (including H1N1), Hepatitis B shots for people at high medium risk for Hepatitis B and Pneumococcal shots are available free.
  • Colon cancer screening – Fecal occult blood tests are covered each year and colonoscopies every 10 years.
  • Prostate cancer screening – Digital rectal exams and a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test are covered once every 12 months for men over 50.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm – This ultrasound screening is provided for patients who are considered at high risk.
  • Bone density test – This test is free every 24 months for those who meet the criteria.
  • Cardiovascular screenings – Blood tests to screen for cholesterol, lipid, lipoprotein and triglyceride levels are covered every five years.
  • HIV screenings – These screenings are covered once every 12 months or up to three times during a pregnancy; copayments may be required.
  • Glaucoma screenings – For people at high risk for the eye disease glaucoma, screenings are covered once every 12 months; copayments may be required.
There is no cost to Medicare recipients for these additional services if their doctor or other health care provider accepts Medicare as full payment. If the Medicare patients receive additional tests or services during the same visit that aren’t covered under these preventive benefits, beneficiaries may have to pay coinsurance and the Part B deductible. Recipients who have a Medicare Advantage Plan or other insurance may have different costs.
Last year, more than 18,000 people in Faulkner, Lonoke, Monroe, Prairie, Pulaski and Saline counties were CareLinked with information and resources to help them stay active and in their own homes, avoiding more costly care. Older people and their caregivers can get the information and assistance they need from CareLink at 501.372.5300 or toll-free 800.482.6359 or at