New Medicare benefits could help keep older people independent, yet many aren’t using them. Sometimes that’s because they don’t know about them. The Affordable Care Act introduced these benefits last year, but with its future in the hands of the Supreme Courts and a decision expected in June, so now is the time to get to the doctor, stat.
“Medicare is complicated. Often, our clients don’t know about all the benefits, and their kids feel overwhelmed trying to help them,” says Jody Guerrieri, co-founder and vice president of Preferred Care at Home. “But using the benefits can help keep people well and independent. It’s important for those of us in the care industry to help people understand them. We’ll even drive our clients to the doctor to make getting the services easy.”
Here are four Medicare benefits people may not be aware of: Yearly wellness visit:
People with Medicare Part B don’t just get the one-time Welcome to Medicare visit anymore. Now, they can meet with their doctor yearly to review their health and develop a personalized prevention plan with no deductible or co-payment involved.
Prescription-drug discount: When people reached the donut-hole coverage gap, they used to have to pay all their medication costs. Now, they get a 50-percent discount on covered brand-name prescription drugs.
Health counseling and therapy: Need to lose weight? Behavioral therapy for obesity is now covered. Want to stop smoking? Counseling is available at no cost if you don’t have a related illness. (If you do, it’s still covered, but coinsurance and deductibles apply.) You can also get nutrition therapy for diabetes or kidney disease, along with counseling for alcohol misuse and to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Health screenings: Bone-mass measurement is available at no cost for some people, as are screenings for colorectal cancer and diabetes. Newly covered screenings include those for depression, alcohol misuse and sexually transmitted infections. “Using these benefits can mean staying out of the hospital or nursing home,” says Guerrieri. “A good home-care agency should help you do just that–not only through help at home but through support and education.”