Medicare Pays - Get the Most from It!

Senior citizens who want to keep the pink in their cheeks without losing the green in their wallets should check out the free and almost-free preventive-health-care services offered by Medicare.

Many older people have been overlooking these services -- and putting their health and wealth in jeopardy.

Here's a list of what people 65 years of age, some disabled people under 65 years of age, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant) can get with little or no money:

1. One-time "Welcome to Medicare" Physical

This exam will include a thorough review of your health, education and counseling about the preventative services you need like certain screenings and shots, and referrals for other care if you need it.

  • Eligible patients: All people whose Medicare Part B begins on or after January 1, 2005
  • How often: One time only within the first six months that you have Part B
  • Cost: 20% of the Medicare-approved amount after the yearly Part B deductible

2. Cardiovascular screening

  • Eligible patients: Talk with your doctor to see if you qualify
  • How often: Talk with your doctor about how often
  • Cost: free

3. Flu shot

  • Eligible patients: Medicare beneficiaries
  • When Needed: Medicare will pay for the flu shot once every flu season. In some cases this may mean twice in one year. For example, if you received a shot in January 2005 for one flu season, you could be inoculated again in October 2005 for another flu season.
  • Cost: Free if your doctor or provider accepts Medicare. Medicare will pay about $18 for your flu shot if you go to a doctor or provider who doesn't participate in Medicare. This amount varies by State and could be less than a doctor or provider charges you.