New preventive benefits available free to Medicare beneficiaries in Truckee Tahoe | SierraSun.com

New preventive benefits available free to Medicare beneficiaries in Truckee Tahoe

Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Amidst almost daily discussion and speculation about the future of Medicare, beneficiaries should know how best to use their plan as it exists today. For example, last yearand#8217;s health care reform gives Medicare beneficiaries improved coverage for preventive services, including a free annual wellness exam and free screenings for cancer, diabetes, and other medical conditions. These covered services are not subject to the Medicare Part B deductible, meaning you pay no out-of-pocket costs.

Also starting in 2011, beneficiaries are entitled, every year, to a free wellness exam during which your doctor will record your height, weight, and other routine measurements; check for cognitive impairment; update your medical and family history, including your list of medications; and give you personalized health advice as well as referrals for appropriate screening procedures. This annual wellness exam is in addition to the one-time and#8220;Welcome to Medicareand#8221; physical exam.

There are additional screening and preventive exams if you meet eligibility criteria, such as age, gender, family history, and other risk factors. To beneficiaries who qualify, these screening and other preventive services are also free and not subject to the Part B deductible. Preventive services include screening for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV, and abdominal aortic aneurysms. Also covered are bone mass measurements, smoking cessation counseling, and vaccines for flu, pneumonia, and hepatitis B. All these services are designed to prevent disease or detect it at an early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

For more information on Medicare Preventive Benefits, or if you have other questions about Medicare, contact the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP). HICAP is a nonprofit organization that provides free, unbiased information and counseling to Medicare beneficiaries, including people soon to become eligible for Medicare. Counseling sites are located in Grass Valley and Truckee. To schedule a free individual appointment with a registered HICAP counselor, please call Helpline at 530-273-2273.

and#8212; Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.com