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Monday, June 27, 2011

Have you heard? Free check-ups and preventative services are now available under Medicare

Eileen Falk

Staff Writer

Did you know that if you have Medicare, you are now entitled to many preventive screenings and yearly wellness visits with your doctor at no cost to you? That's right. Medicare beneficiaries can now get free screenings for conditions such as cancer and diabetes, as well as free annual check-ups, all thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

These preventive services are designed to ensure early diagnosis and treatment for many chronic conditions, which will improve the health of many Americans and also save money. It's a win-win situation for Medicare beneficiaries.

When you first sign up for Medicare, you are covered for a "Welcome to Medicare" physical exam. After that, you are now entitled to a free yearly wellness visit with your doctor. At these appointments, you will be able to discuss and develop a personal prevention plan that is unique to your needs and risks. Want to learn more? Click here.

Another great benefit of these visits is counseling for those who want to quit smoking. Even if you have not been diagnosed with a tobacco-related illness, you can now receive counseling to help you quit at no extra cost. In the long run, this will help prevent more tobacco-related conditions and illnesses.

Free services also include screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol, many cancers (including cervical and prostate), and other conditions. Many vaccines, bone mass measurement, and HIV screenings are also included. The government lists the free screenings and services available on their healthcare website. You can learn more about what's covered here.

So why haven't you heard about this yet? News about this improved coverage has been slow to get out, and only about one in six beneficiaries has taken advantage of it so far). But that is all changing now. The Health and Human Services Department is launching a new campaign called "Share the News, Share the Health" to ensure that every Medicare beneficiary knows about the prevention services.

So tell your parents, your grandparents, your family, your neighbors, and your friends: Serious conditions can be caught early and prevented, saving health, money, and peace of mind.