Though millions of seniors rely on Medicare for health coverage in retirement, the program tends to get a bad rap. For one thing, its Part B and Part D premiums can get expensive, and it doesn't cover a host of key services seniors tend to need, like hearing, vision, and dental care. But before you get too down on Medicare, you should know that the program offers a number of less-obvious benefits that can not only help you maintain your health, but potentially save you money on medical care. Here are a few you should be aware of.
1. Free annual well visits
Medicare offers enrollees a number of preventative care services at no cost, one of which is a free annual wellness visit. During that exam, your doctor can perform a comprehensive health screening to potentially get ahead of brewing issues that aren't yet symptomatic. And that's important for a couple of reasons. First, the sooner medical problems are identified and addressed, the less serious they're likely to become. Secondly, it's generally cheaper to treat minor health issues than major ones, and by capitalizing on your free well visit, you might nip an otherwise expensive problem in the bud.
2. Weight loss programs
Being overweight is tied to a host of medical conditions, and as you age and your mobility declines, maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging. Thankfully, Medicare offers weight loss programs provided they're deemed medically necessary.
3. Aid in quitting smoking
Smoking is not only a dangerous habit, but an expensive one at that. And when you're retired and on a fixed income, paying for cigarettes constantly could mean falling behind on other bills. The good news, however, is that if you're a smoker, Medicare will help you quit. The program offers smoking cessation counseling for seniors looking to kick their addiction.
4. Alcohol counseling
A little alcohol consumption here and there is generally considered pretty harmless -- but abusing alcohol is another story. If you're in the latter camp, Medicare will get you the counseling and treatment you need. Not only that, but under the program's preventative care services, you'll be screened for alcohol misuse so that you might get ahead of the problem before it becomes full-blown.
5. Mobility devices
If you're struggling with mobility, you don't have to go it alone -- especially since Medicare will cover the cost of durable medical equipment like wheelchairs and scooters. All you need is confirmation from a physician that you have a medical need for such a device.
Many seniors struggle to get around town, whether because it's physically difficult, logistically challenging, or just plain expensive. That's why Medicare's telehealth service is so important -- it allows seniors to receive healthcare advice from the comfort of home. If you can't physically get yourself to a doctor, you instead have the option to consult with one electronically, thereby helping you avoid delays in getting the care you need.
The more you know about Medicare, the better positioned you'll be to make the most of it. Whether you're a new enrollee or have had Medicare for years, it never hurts to read up on the program to ensure that you're getting the benefits you're entitled to.