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10 Useful Medicare Benefits You Didn’t Know About Until Now

Written by tyemedical on August 27, 2019

In 2018, nearly 60 million Americans were enrolled in Medicare or covered under a Medicare Advantage plan. If you or your parents are near age 65, then you’re probably familiar with the most common Medicare benefits, but you could still be missing out! If you want to take full advantage of your plan, then check out these Medicare benefits you didn’t know you had – until now.

1. Fitness Programs

If you’re covered under a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C), then you may have exercise program benefits worth cashing in on. Exercise pays off in a big way for seniors, so if you have access to these fitness programs, don’t hesitate to get the details from your carrier.

The two most popular Part C fitness plans are Silver & Fit and SilverSneakers

Member have access to:

  • Popular fitness centers (Curves, Workout Anytime, Fitness Connection, Anytime Fitness, and more)
  • Home Fitness Program (resources sent to your doorstep)
  • Resource library including online classes and videos

Keep in mind that fitness center memberships include more than just traditional exercise equipment. You may also receive access to amenities such as swimming pools, whirlpools, saunas, and exercise classes.

2. CPAP Machines

Over 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and the diagnosis is more prevalent among seniors. Untreated sleep apnea will drastically affect your health, which is why Medicare and Medicare Advantage offer coverage under your durable medical equipment benefits if you meet specific requirements.

CPAP Medicare benefits deliver again and again, because it’s recommended that you replace your mask and tubing every three months, and the machine itself won’t last forever. As this medical technology evolves, you’re able to upgrade to more compact and quieter equipment and choose from a growing selection of masks.

CPAP machines are pricey, averaging around $850. So, be sure to learn more about your Medicare benefits.

3. Wheelchairs and Scooters

Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans cover a long list of Durable Medical Equipment, including many options you’re probably familiar with. But did you know that your Medicare benefits include coverage for more expensive medical equipment like wheelchairs and scooters?

Many families are relieved to learn that Medicare greatly reduces the financial burden of both manual and power wheelchairs. Wheelchair prices begin around $1,500 and cost upwards of $30,000 depending on required features. If a mobility scooter makes more sense for you, you can expect to pay a retail cost of anywhere from $800 to $5,000 if you’re paying out of pocket.

Medicare Part B covers power-operated scooters and manual wheelchairs. However, if a doctor deems it medically necessary, your Medicare plan will also cover a power wheelchair.

If your mobility challenges are a growing concern. Talk with your provider to determine the cost of a wheelchair or scooter through Medicare and where to find a Medicare participating dealer near you.

4. Home Health Services

Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans cover home health services for seniors who only require part-time skilled nursing care or physical therapy. It’s important for you to be aware of these specific Medicare benefits, even if you don’t need them now. When implemented at the right time, covered home health services can prolong your stay at home and delay the need for full-time care facilities.

When you opt to receive home health services, you’ll get formal medical care administered by trained professionals in your home. Your family will feel at ease knowing you’re getting the attention you need even if they can’t be there.

5. Nutrition Therapy and Obesity Counseling

It’s challenging to keep up with the ever-growing masses of information about nutrition, and it’s especially difficult if you have certain health conditions to consider. Your Medicare benefits cover services that help you manage your nutrition and maintain a healthy weight.

If you have diabetes or kidney disease Medicare and Medicare Advantage provide coverage for medical nutrition therapy (MNT). MNT includes an initial nutrition assessment followed with nutrition counseling sessions. The registered dietician or similar professional helps you make more informed food choices and educates you about your specific nutritional needs. In short, you learn how to make lifestyle and dietary adjustments that will help you manage your medical condition.

Similarly, if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, you’re qualified to receive Medicare benefits for obesity behavioral counseling. Naturally, the program aims to help you lose weight through diet and exercise. Like MNT, you’ll receive an initial assessment followed by informative counseling sessions tailored to your needs.

If you fall into one or both categories and believe you would benefit from guidance and support, consider taking advantage of these services.

6. Disease Screenings and Immunizations

Do you shy away from “unnecessary” medical tests, because you fear the cost? Be advised, your Medicare benefits cover many of them! In fact, most preventative screenings and all covered immunizations cost you nothing if your provider is enrolled in Medicare.

You probably know that your annual wellness visits are covered under Medicare after twelve months of enrollment. But you might not realize how many preventative screenings and routine immunizations are covered through your plan.

Sampling of Preventative Screenings and Tests Covered by Medicare

  • Bone density screenings
  • Cervical and vaginal cancer screenings
  • Colorectal cancer screenings (including colonoscopy)
  • Mammogram (screening)
  • Prostate cancer PSA test (for men)

Covered Immunizations

  • Flu shots
  • Hepatitis B shots
  • Pneumococcal shots (pneumonia shot)

Next time your doctor suggests a preventative screening or vaccination, consider it a viable option and find out more about your coverage under Medicare or Medicare Advantage.

7. Diabetic Footwear

If you’ve had diabetes for any length of time, then you know the importance of footcare. About 60-70% of people with diabetes have some form of diabetic nerve damage. Frequently, this nerve damage strikes the feet, as well as the hands and digestive system.

The effects of diabetes on your body increases with age. At some point, you or your loved one might require therapeutic shoes and inserts, which are covered through your Medicare benefits.

Diabetic footwear promotes comfort and decreases the odds of developing foot sores or ulcers that frequently lead to infection – or worse. If you’re concerned about how your diabetes may be compromising the health of your feet, discuss options with your doctor and learn more about your Medicare benefits.

8. Walk-in Bathtubs

Getting your walk-in bathtub covered through Medicare and Medicare Advantage can be tricky, because it’s not an official benefit. Medicare doesn’t classify a walk-in tub as durable medical equipment. Coverage for this is more of an exception rather than a rule – but it’s possible to get a reimbursement. You might find that it’s worth a try.

Because “supplemental benefits” have recently expanded through Medicare Advantage, you have a better chance of getting your walk-in bathtub covered under an Advantage plan.

You have a chance of receiving a reimbursement if your doctor:

  • Gives you a medical diagnosis that establishes need
  • Certifies the walk-in-tub is medically necessary
  • Writes a prescription that outlines the necessity

Best advice – be prepared to pay for it yourself, but if your doctor deems it a medical necessity, submit a claim and hope for a reimbursement. The option is worth learning more about.

9. Patient Lifts

If you’re a senior with larger mobility challenges, then you’ve probably considered installing lifts in your home for both practical and safety-related reasons. But as with most medical equipment, the price tag can be uncomfortable, especially if you need more than one type of lift.

Your Medicare benefits or Medicare Advantage plan can cut those cost and allow you to stay in your home longer with greater comfort and safety.

Not sure what types of lifts are available?  Here are the two most common lifts covered by Medicare:

  • Full-body lifts help you move from one location to another without having to stand.
  • Stand-assist lifts help you transition from a seated position to standing.

Your Medicare benefits will only cover (in most cases) manual or hydraulic lifts and not power lifts.

If your doctor writes a prescription for a patient lift, your provider’s office can advise you about coverage details and Medicare participating dealers near you.

10. Breast Prostheses

After battling cancer, it’s a great relief to know that your Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan covers breast prostheses after a mastectomy. As you and your family rejoice over the victory and begin facing new challenges, you’ll need to consider your options for the future.

Medicare offers benefits whether you opt for external prostheses or surgical implants and also provides coverage for the accompanying reconstructive surgery.

According to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), more women are opting for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, but the largest increase has been among women age 65 and older who are covered under Medicare or Medicare Advantage.

Discuss your best options with your doctor and seek clarification about costs under your Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan.

Staying Informed About Medicare Benefits

Medicare continues to evolve, and if you’re interested in the latest information on Medicare benefits, check out these additional resources:

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Medicare.gov

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Silver&Fit

Silver Sneakers

American Sleep Apnea Association

California Podiatric Medical Association

BreastCancer.org