Medicare and Cancer
Combined with responsible living and wise choices, Medicare can be one of the greatest allies to keep you on the winning side against cancer.
When at all possible, it’s best to win the battle early, before cancer can hit you with full force. If you’re vigilant, standing on the watchtower and looking for any sign of the enemy approaching, chances are you’ll be ready and able to knock that enemy silly and thwart any plans it had to make your life miserable.
Few things are more important than preventive care when it comes to protecting you against the dreaded “c” word. Regular checkups and diagnostic procedures are the key to detecting various cancers in their earliest stages, when the prognosis and chances for a full recovery are best. Healthcare providers and cancer survivors everywhere agree that when it comes to cancer, the earlier you know what you’re up against, the better.
Your “Welcome to Medicare” Preventive Visit
Medicare preventive care begins with your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit, a comprehensive examination offered during your first year on Medicare. During this visit you and your doctor or qualified non-physician practitioner will discuss your current health conditions and prescriptions, review your medical and family history, and do tests and screenings to help set the course for your most effective future care.
The “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit is free to most people enrolled in Medicare, and if it detects any sign of cancer you’ll be in a great position to take immediate action.
Medicare-Covered Cancer Screenings
As an important part of its preventive services, Medicare covers screenings for these types of cancer:
Breast cancer is the second-leading type of cancer among women in the US, and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths. Each year, there are over 200,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed across the country, and nearly 40,000 women die annually of this disease. Medicare covers a breast screening mammogram every 12 months for any woman with Medicare aged 40 or older.
Cervical and Vaginal Cancer affect many women, but often go undetected because their symptoms are mistaken for PMS or ovulation pain. Many women have no idea they’re suffering from serious diseases until the later stages, and would have benefited greatly from earlier detection and treatment. Fortunately, Medicare covers Pap tests and pelvic exams to help detect cervical and vaginal cancers in women.
Colon Cancer screenings are available to everyone on Medicare. If you aren’t considered at high risk, you can receive a Medicare-covered colonoscopy once every 120 months. If you’re considered at high risk, you can receive a colonoscopy every 24 months. There is no minimum age.
Prostate cancer screening is available to men 50 and older in order to help detect prostate cancer early, when treatment is most effective. Beginning the day after your 50th birthday, you are eligible to receive a digital rectal exam and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test once every 12 months.
“Wellness” visits help keep you armed and informed in the battle against cancer. Each of these Medicare-covered annual consultations will focus on developing or updating your personalized plan to prevent disease based on your current health and risk factors. In other words, you’ll have a chance to retool as you talk over strategy with your healthcare professional.
You’re eligible for your first annual “wellness” visit 12 months after your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit. If you missed your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit, you’re still eligible for annual “wellness” visits, so you shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity.
A Medicare & Medicaid Research Review Report examining cancer findings in West Virginia notes what many Americans already know—that “the elderly carry an unequal burden of cancer.” But the report also indicates something many Americans may not be aware of. Contrary to what many Americans believe, “this burden is especially higher in rural areas, which are known to report higher cancer frequency and death rate.” It’s been no secret that rural dwellers are occasionally exposed to factors elevating their risk of cancer—and more often are simply in locations making effective treatment of cancer more difficult. Whatever your situation, it’s important to be aware of risk factors so that you can work with your healthcare professional to minimize risk and increase your chances of living a cancer-free life. Knowing how Medicare can help in the battle against cancer can be just as important.
Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B), Medicare Supplement Plans, and Medicare Advantage Plans , can all go a long way toward keeping you protected against cancer. If you have further questions about cancer and Medicare or any other aspect of senior healthcare, contact MedicareMall now and let us lead you with confidence through the Medicare maze!