Here’s a List of Free Preventive Screenings, Tests, and Shots From Medicare
Have you taken advantage of the preventive screenings Medicare covers? What about the tests and shots that are completely free? If you haven’t, you still have a few months left in the year to schedule them.
Here’s a list of the 23 preventive tests, screenings, and shots that Medicare covers at no cost to you.
Free Shots that Medicare Covers
Medicare covers flu shots, Hepatitis B shots, and Pneumococcal shots.
Under Medicare Part B, you can get one flu shot per flu season.
In order to get the Hepatitis B shot, you do need to meet some eligibility criteria which puts you at medium or high risk for Hep B. This includes:
- You have hemophilia.
- You have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
- You have diabetes.
- You live with someone who has Hepatitis B.
- You're a healthcare worker and have frequent contact with blood or bodily fluids.
The pneumococcal shots help prevent pneumococcal infections (like certain types of pneumonia). The two shots protect against different strains of the bacteria. Medicare covers the first shot at any time, and also covers a different second shot if it’s given one year (or later) after the first shot.
Free Tests and Screenings that Medicare Covers
Here’s a quick list of tests and screenings that Medicare covers 100%. In many cases, there are some eligibility requirements, so check to see if you’d be eligible before scheduling your appointment.
1) Bone mass measurement test
One test is covered every 2 years for people who meet the following requirements.:
- A woman whose doctor determines both of these (based on her medical history and other findings):
- She's estrogen deficient
- She's at risk for osteoporosis
- A person whose X-rays show possible osteoporosis, osteopenia, or vertebral fractures
- A person taking prednisone or steroid-type drugs or is planning to begin this treatment
- A person who has been diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism
- A person who is being monitored to see if their osteoporosis drug therapy is working
2) Obesity screening & counseling
If you have a BMI of 30 or above, Medicare will cover face-to-face, individual behavioral counseling sessions to help you lose weight. This counseling is only covered if you get it in a primary care setting (like a doctor's office).
3) Diabetes screenings
Find out if you have diabetes by taking advantage of the free diabetes screening through Medicare Part B. The test is covered if you have:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- History of abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels (dyslipidemia)
- History of high blood sugar (glucose)
Part B also covers these tests if 2 or more of these apply to you:
- Age 65 or older
- A family history of diabetes (parents, brothers, sisters)
- History of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or delivery of a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
4) Preventive visit & yearly wellness exams
The preventive visit is free if you schedule it within the first year that you have Medicare Part B. During this visit, you get basic preventive services such as a flu shot, a vision test, blood pressure measurement, and more.
The yearly wellness visit is free after you’ve had Part B for more than a year. During this visit, your doctor or physician will have you fill out a Health Risk Assessment to help prevent disease and disability for the future. This visit is free once per year.
A screening mammogram is covered once a year. You can also get a diagnostic mammogram when it’s medically necessary, but you will have to pay the 20% coinsurance as well as your Part B deductible if it hasn’t been met yet.
6) Sexually transmitted infections (STI) screening & counseling
If you’re at an increased risk for an STI, and your doctor orders the test, you can get tested for the following once a year at no cost:
- Hepatitis B
Medicare also covers up to 2 individual 20-30 minute, face-to-face, high-intensity behavioral counseling sessions each year. These are covered for sexually active adolescents and adults at increased risk for STIs, if referred by a doctor.
7) Depression screenings
You have access to one depression screening per year at no cost, as long as that screening happens in a primary care setting, like your doctor’s office.
8) Cardiovascular disease (behavioral therapy)
Medicare covers one visit per year to help you lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.
During the visit, you can expect your doctor to discuss aspirin use (if appropriate), check your blood pressure, and give you tips to make sure you're eating well.
9) Cervical & vaginal cancer screenings
Pap tests and pelvic exams that check for cervical and vaginal cancer are covered once every 2 years for all women. If you’re at high risk for cervical or vaginal cancer, you can be checked once a year for free.
10) Counseling to stop smoking or using tobacco products
If you need help to stop smoking, Medicare Part B covers up to 8 face-to-face visits per year.
11) Hepatitis C screening test
Medicare covers one Hepatitis C screening test and yearly repeat screening for certain people at high risk.
You’re eligible if you meet one of these conditions:
- Those at high risk because they use or used illicit injection drugs.
- Those who had a blood transfusion before 1992.
- Those born between 1945-1965.
12) Nutrition therapy services
As long as your doctor refers you to a Registered Dietitian or nutrition professional, you can get an initial nutrition and lifestyle assessment, individual and/or group nutrition therapy services, and follow-up visits to check on your progress in managing your diet.
Medicare Part B covers this for people who have diabetes, kidney disease, or a kidney transplant in the last 36 months.
13) Prostate cancer screenings
Under Medicare Part B, you can receive a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test once a year. For the digital rectal exam, you do have some costs, such as the 20% coinsurance and your deductible.
However, the PSA test is free.
14) Alcohol misuse screening & counseling
If you use alcohol and don’t meet the medical criteria for alcohol dependency, you are eligible for a free alcohol misuse screening once a year.
You can get 4 brief face-to-face counseling sessions per year if these apply:
- Your primary care doctor determines you're misusing alcohol.
- You're competent and alert during counseling.
15) Cardiovascular disease screenings
Everyone with Part B can be screened for cholesterol, lipid, and triglyceride levels every 5 years. These screenings include blood tests and help detect conditions that may lead to a heart attack or stroke.
16) Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection screening
Assuming you’re a senior and aren’t pregnant, you can get a Hep B screening once per year if you’re at high risk and don’t get the vaccination. Your doctor does need to order it.
17) Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
Medicare Part B covers a one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound. You must get a referral for it from your doctor or another practitioner, and you must be at risk. You're considered at risk if you meet one of these criteria:
- You have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms.
- You’re a man, age 65 to 75, and have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your lifetime.
18) Colorectal cancer screenings
To help find precancerous growths or cancer early, when treatment is most effective, Medicare Part B covers several types of colorectal cancer screening tests. These are free to anyone who has Part B.
19) HIV screening
HIV screenings are covered once a year for people who meet these guidelines:
- 15-65 years old
- Younger than 15 or older than 65, and at increased risk
- Pregnant (covered up to 3 times during a pregnancy)
20) Lung cancer screening
You’re able to get a lung cancer screening with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) once per year if you meet all of these conditions:
- You’re 55-77.
- You’re asymptomatic (they don’t have signs or symptoms of lung cancer).
- You’re either a current smoker or have quit smoking within the last 15 years.
- You have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years).
- You get a written order from their doctor.
Medicare Advantage and Free Screenings, Tests, and Shots
If you’re in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, you’ll need to contact your plan for a list of covered preventive services.
MA plans must cover all the same preventive services as Original Medicare, and some MA plans may even offer additional services – you just need to ask!
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