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Free preventive care is now available under Medicare

The new health reform law that took effect on January 1, 2011 includes free preventive services for Medicare recipients. Under the law, people with regular Medicare will no longer have to pay a co-pay, coinsurance or deductible to receive preventive services that are highly recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – including screenings for breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as smoking cessation counseling. Private Medicare plans (known as Medicare Advantage plans) may still charge for these services, but many do not.

Also under the new law, Medicare Part B beneficiaries can now receive an annual wellness visit free of charge. During this yearly visit, your doctor or other health practitioner recognized by Medicare (such as a nurse practitioner) will update your medical history and current prescriptions; measure your height, weight, blood pressure and body mass index; create a schedule over the next 5 to 10 years to screen for diseases; and screen for cognitive issues as well.

And Medicare now pays in full, without co-pays or deductibles, for the initial “Welcome to Medicare” program that Medicare has offered since 2005 to beneficiaries within 12 months of their becoming covered under Part B. For a detailed list from the Medicare Rights Center of preventive services that will no longer require out-of-pocket payments, go to: http://bit.ly/a5gVTV.

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