Written by Ari Parker — Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Maintaining our health is important, especially as we age and the risk of developing medical conditions increases.
Medicare covers many preventive services, but some are only covered if you meet specific criteria. Most of these services are fully covered, meaning you'll have no cost. Some, however, require a copayment or coinsurance. It's also important to know that your doctor must accept Medicare assignment to receive coverage. You should also be aware of how often a specific service is covered. Services may be covered one time in your life, once every twelve months, or even once every five years.
Preventive care services are there to help you:
Preventive healthcare can include vaccinations, screenings and tests, doctor visits, and counseling.
Medicare covers many preventive services to help you maintain or improve your physical and mental health. Below are some of the most common preventive services covered under Medicare.
For every preventive service you receive, make sure your doctor accepts Medicare assignment to ensure you're covered. In some cases, your doctor may recommend you receive certain healthcare services more often than what Medicare will cover. If this happens, you may be responsible for all or some of the costs. So, be sure to ask questions before you receive services and treatments. If you have questions, we’re here to help! Give us a call at (855) 900-2427 to get your Medicare questions answered—our support is always free.
Vaccines help your body learn how to defend itself and can prevent a full-blown reaction when you come into contact with a disease. Because any infection is more serious for older adults, it’s important to know which vaccines are out there so you can get the best preventive care.
Even though the Public Health Emergency for Covid-19 ended, Medicare continues to fully cover Covid vaccines. You may, however, have cost sharing for Covid tests—and Medicare doesn’t cover over-the-counter tests. Learn more about Covid-19 Medicare coverage at Medicare.gov.
Getting the flu shot prevents you from getting the flu and from passing it on to others. If your doctor accepts Medicare, your flu shot is fully covered under Medicare Part B.
Medicare fully covers Hepatitis B shots if you’re at medium or high risk for Hepatitis B. In other words, if at least one of the following conditions applies to you:
Pneumococcal shots help prevent a number of infections: pneumonia, bacteremia, sinusitis (sinus infection), meningitis, and otitis media (middle ear infection). Both the single-dose and 2-dose Pneumococcal shots are fully covered by Medicare Part B once in your lifetime.
If you have a Part D (prescription drug) plan, your Part D will cover any commercially available vaccines that are reasonable and necessary to prevent illness. Even if a vaccine isn’t on your formulary, you may be entitled to coverage. Some examples of vaccines covered by Part D plans are the shingles vaccine, the RSV vaccine, and the tetanus-diphtheria-whooping cough vaccine.
Screenings help healthcare providers catch treatable infections and diseases early. As we age, we’re more likely to develop medical conditions, and catching them early can help us seek early treatment, which leads to better outcomes.
Medicare Part B fully covers one alcohol misuse screening each year. This screening is for individuals who use alcohol but aren’t considered alcohol-dependent.
Medicare Part B fully covers a cardiovascular blood test screening once every five years.
In most cases, Medicare Part B covers the following services every 24 months, as part of the cervical and vaginal cancer screening:
If you’re at high risk, are of childbearing age, or have had an abnormal Pap test in the past 36 months, Medicare covers these services once every 12 months.
Medicare Part B fully covers one depression screening each year. The screening must occur in a primary care setting where you can receive follow-up treatment or a referral.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, call or text 988, the free and confidential Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. You can call and speak with a trained crisis counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also connect with a counselor through web chat at 988lifeline.org.
Call 911 if you're in immediate medical crisis.
Over 37 million US adults have diabetes, and the disease can cause other medical complications. Part B covers up to two blood glucose lab test screenings each year if you have any of the following:
Part B will also cover these screenings if you:
Medicare covers an HBV screening one time per year if a doctor orders it and you are either at high risk for HBV or pregnant.
Medicare covers Hepatitis C screenings if your healthcare provider orders one and you’re at high risk.
If you are at high risk because of one of the following reasons, Medicare will pay for one screening test:
If you are at high risk because you’re still using illicit injection drugs, Medicare will cover one screening each year.
Medicare Part B covers an HIV screening one time each year if one of the following is true:
You can get up to three HIV screenings during a pregnancy.
You must meet all of the following conditions to have Medicare cover a lung cancer screening:
Mammograms help catch breast cancer early and are covered by Medicare Part B. There are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic. Medicare fully covers screening mammograms. For diagnostic mammograms, once you meet your Part B deductible, you’ll pay 20% of the costs.
A baseline screening mammogram is covered once in your lifetime for women between ages 35-39. If you’re 40 or older, screening mammograms are covered once every twelve months. Diagnostic mammograms are covered more than once a year if they’re medically necessary.
There are two parts of a prostate cancer screening: the digital rectal exam and the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Both of these are covered by Medicare, and you can receive them once every twelve months after you turn 50.
The PSA blood test is fully covered by Medicare. For the digital rectal exam, once you meet your Part B deductible, you’ll owe 20% of the Medicare-Approved Amount. If you receive the rectal exam in an outpatient hospital setting, you may also owe a copay.
Medicare Part B covers STD screenings once every twelve months for those who are pregnant or at increased risk for STDs. STD screenings are also covered during certain times of a pregnancy.
When you first enroll in Medicare, you’re eligible for a one-time “Welcome to Medicare” visit. After this, Medicare covers a “Wellness” visit one time each year.
For any services provided during your “Wellness” visit that aren’t explicitly covered by the visit, you may be responsible for all or part of the costs of services. If your doctor determines you need additional services or care during your “Wellness” visit, you will need to make another appointment to receive those services at a later date.
Yearly “Wellness” visits share some similarities with a physical exam, but offer fewer services. Your Yearly “Wellness” visit is fully covered by Part B. During your visit, your healthcare provider will:
The “Welcome to Medicare” visit includes all of the services you’ll receive with your yearly “Wellness” visit, and also:
Whether you’re struggling with drug misuse, specific diseases,or your weight, Medicare covers counseling to provide face-to-face support. Not all mental health support is listed as “preventive care.” Get a full understanding of how Medicare covers therapy and mental health needs here.
In addition to the alcohol misuse screenings mentioned above, if your primary care provider determines you’re misusing alcohol, Medicare fully covers up to four counseling sessions each year.
Cardiovascular (heart) disease is the leading cause of death in the US, but lifestyle changes can cause better outcomes. During your session, your doctor will check your blood pressure and provide advice on eating well.
Medicare Part B covers nutrition counseling if your doctor refers you for the services and you meet any of the following criteria:
If you have a BMI of 30 or more, Medicare Part B fully covers obesity screenings and counseling. Your behavioral therapy sessions will provide you with a dietary assessment and counseling to support weight loss through diet and exercise.
In addition to STD screenings mentioned above, Medicare also covered two behavioral counseling sessions each year for sexually active adults at increased risk for STDs.
Medicare Part B covers up to eight counseling sessions in a twelve-month period to help current tobacco users stop their use of tobacco products.
Most preventive care services are free, as long as they apply to you. We highly recommend you use these services because they can help you catch medical complications early and help you better maintain your health as you age. If you have questions about how a specific service is covered under Medicare or any other Medicare-related questions, we’re here to help!