Stay Healthy with Medicare’s Wellness Coverage

Post Date: April 2016  |  Category: Senior Health

Are you enrolled in Medicare? Then you know your plan pays for medical care when you get sick. But did you realize that Medicare also pays for doctor visits that keep you healthy?

Medicare covers a range of services that both keep you well and detect diseases early, when they’re easier to treat. Taking advantage of these benefits can mean a longer, healthier life.

How Do You Decide?

Which of the following screenings, vaccinations and services listed below are right for you? Find out when you schedule your annual checkup, or your first-year “Welcome to Medicare” physical.

Ask your doctor about any needed preventive tests or screenings. Also, discuss any health concerns you might have. Below are some common recommendations:

  • Diabetes screenings. A diabetes screening (fasting blood glucose test) is covered for people who are at risk for diabetes and have a referral from their physician. Additional testing may be covered depending on screening results.
  • Diabetes self-management training. Covered for people with diabetes to help them manage their condition and prevent complications. Must have a written referral from a healthcare provider. (Note: You may be responsible for a percentage of the cost.)
  • Bone mass measurement. Once every 24 months, or more often if you have lost bone mass or are at risk for osteoporosis.
  • Cardiovascular screenings. Your blood pressure will need to be checked more often if your readings have been high or you are being treated for diabetes or heart disease. Get cholesterol screenings every five years, or more often at your doctor’s recommendation.
  • Colorectal cancer screening exams. A flexible sigmoidoscopy or screening barium enema is recommended every four years; or a colonoscopy every 10 years. More frequent tests are recommended if you’re at high-risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Glaucoma tests. Annually if you are high risk.
  • HIV screening. Annually for high-risk patients.
  • Vaccinations for flu, pneumonia and Hepatitis B. Get a flu vaccine every year before the flu season starts. One type of pneumonia vaccine is recommended once after age 65. It can be also given before age 65 if you are at high risk; however, you may need to revaccinate after 5 years have elapsed. A different, second pneumonia vaccine, may be given a year later. Your doctor may also suggest a Hepatitis B vaccination. Discover what immunizations Rite Aid has to offer.
  • Tobacco use cessation counseling. Up to 8 face-to-face sessions a year.
  • Nutrition therapy. Covered for people with diabetes or kidney disease with a referral from a physician. Provides 3 hours of one-on-one counseling services the first year, and 2 hours each year after that. A physician must prescribe and renew these services yearly.

For women only:

  • Mammograms. Recommended annually for women age 40 and older.
  • Cervical and Vaginal Cancer Screening. Covers screening pelvic exam and Pap test once every 24 months or once every 12 months for certain high risk women. As part of the pelvic exam, a clinical breast exam is covered to check for breast cancer.

For men only:

  • Prostate Cancer. Digital rectal exam and PSA (prostate specific antigen) test once every 12 months in all men over 50 years of age.

Practice Prevention

The bottom line: To stay as healthy as possible, get all the screenings, tests and vaccinations your doctor recommends. Talk with your doctor about the schedule that’s best for you, given your medical history and health.

For more details on Medicare coverage, visit



“Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services.” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.