Roughly 48 million seniors are currently signed up for Medicare coverage and that number continues to grow with each passing year. Many of these recipients are retirees that are fully dependent on the government run health insurance program to help them pay for their healthcare related expenses, which is a bit of a double-edge sword. On the one hand Medicare is a pretty amazing deal, offering good coverage for an affordable price. On the other hand the program is filled with rules and regulations that can make it confusing to understand, and the list of services that Medicare won't pay is shocking.
However, if you dig deep into the details of the program you might be surprised to learn of some of the great benefits that Medicare will cover. Below is a list of five secret benefits that millions of retirees are likely not aware of. Read on to see if you any of them appeal to you.
1. Depression screening
It is estimated that one out of every six adults age 65 or older in the U.S. currently suffers from some form of depression. Unfortunately, many older adults who are depressed are never properly diagnosed for their illness, so they never receive treatment. That's a big problem as depression can increase the risk of developing a huge range of adverse health problems such as weight gain, difficulty sleeping, or even thoughts of suicide.
Thankfully, Medicare is well aware of the importance of diagnosing depression early and set its policies accordingly. If you have Medicare Part B then you are covered for a free annual depression screening visit, so long as its performed in a primary care setting.
2. Smoking & tobacco use cessation
More than 480,000 Americans die each year from smoking, making it the leading preventable cause of death in the country. Quitting can significantly lower your chances for developing a huge range of tobacco related diseases even if you have been a life-long smoker.
If you are a tobacco user with Medicare Part B coverage and you want to kick the habit then you can get help from your doctor. Medicare will fully cover the cost of up to eight smoking cessation visits over a 12-month period if they are provided by a qualified doctor or other Medicare-recognized practitioner.
3. Obesity screening & counseling
More than one out of every three adults in this country is classified as obese, which is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30. Obesity can greatly increase the chances of developing a huge number of diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer.
To help beneficiaries shed unwanted pounds Medicare will cover behavioral counseling sessions that are designed to help patients lose weight. Anyone who has a BMI of 30 or more is covered and they will pay nothing to get the extra help.
4. Bariatric surgery
If you've tried everything but still can't shed the extra pounds in some cases Medicare will cover a portion of the cost of weight loss surgery. Like any surgical procedure there are risks associated with going under the knife, but bariatric surgery has been clinically shown to help resolve many of the conditions associated with obesity.
As you can imagine there is a strict list of of criteria that needs to be satisfied before Medicare will give the go ahead on helping to pay for the surgery, but if you check all of the boxes then Medicare will help cover the cost of several different weight loss procedures like gastric bypass or laparoscopic band surgery.
5. Alcohol abuse counseling
It is estimated that one out of every six Americans currently has some sort of drinking problem. That can not only lead to an increased risk of developing liver disease or even some forms of cancer, but it can also cause some people to become violent and greatly increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident.
To help combat this issue Medicare will cover one free screening visit per year for anyone who uses alcohol. Anyone who screens positive for possible alcohol abuse can get up to four face-to-face counseling sessions covered per year for no cost.