Medicare expands preventive benefits

Sunday, August 1, 2004

August 2, 2004

BALTIMORE - CMS unveiled last week a suite of new preventive services for Medicare beneficiaries that the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 mandated.
Beginning in 2005, all newly enrolled Medicare beneficiaries will be covered for an initial physical examination; all beneficiaries will be covered for cardiovascular screening blood tests; and those at risk will be covered for a diabetes screening test in order to increase early detection and treatment of this life-threatening condition.
In 1997 and 2000, Medicare initiated coverage of other preventive services, including mammography screening, pap smears, pelvic exams, screenings, for colorectal cancer, prostrate cancer and glaucoma, medical nutrition for people with diabetes or renal disease and more.
The new benefits include:
- The initial preventive physical - the so-called Welcome to Medicare Physical - will consist of a comprehensive examination, education, counseling and referral to other preventive services covered by Medicare.
- Every five years, Medicare will cover cardiovascular screening blood tests, including tests for total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein, and triglycerides.
- Twice a year, those at risk for diabetes will be screened for the disease, including a fasting plasma glucose test and post-glucose challenges. Eligible beneficiaries will not have to meet a deductible or co-pay for the test.