Medicare parts B and D have expanded preventive services and added greater discounts on prescription drugs. Here are some important changes that older adults should be aware of:
Wellness exams and preventive care are now free to new Medicare subscribers. The exam must occur no later than 12 months after enrollment in Medicare and will include a health history review, counseling about preventive services, and a referral to a specialist if needed. After being enrolled in part B for longer than 12 months, a person can get a free yearly wellness visit for developing or updating a prevention plan based on current health and risk factors if the doctor accepts the assignment.
Medicare subscribers are also entitled to free screenings for cancer, diabetes, mammograms, bone density measurements, colonoscopies, glaucoma tests, prostate exams, and nutrition therapy.
People with Medicare part B are entitled to as many as eight smoking-cessation visits. In the past, patients were required to pay a portion of the services and the patients had to be diagnosed with a tobacco-related disease to take part in the smoking-cessation classes.
Changes in Medicare coverage also affect prescription drug coverage; subscribers are no longer required to pay 100 percent of the drug costs related to the coverage gap. For more details on prescription drug coverage, read the entire article at www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-01-2011/new_2011_medicare_benefits.html.