Traditional Medicare works! Researchers looked at 60 million people on traditional Medicare between 1999 and 2013. They found that mortality rates dropped steadily, and people were less likely to end up in the hospital. The improvement comes from a combination of health prevention programs, improved medical technology, and care shifting from hospitals to less expensive outpatient facilities. People who were hospitalized were having much better outcomes. They had a much better chance for survival!
Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t cover everything. If you need certain services that Medicare doesn’t cover, you’ll have to pay for them yourself unless you have other insurance that covers these services.
Even if Medicare covers a service or item, you will have to pay your deductibles, coinsurance, and or copayments.
Some of the items and services that Medicare doesn’t cover include:
- Long Term Care
- Routine Eye Exam (vision exam or exam related to prescribing glasses)
- Cosmetic surgery
- Hearing aids and exams for fitting them
- Routine foot care
Medicare celebrates its golden anniversary on July 30th. 50 years ago, on July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare law into effect. The program started in January of 1966, when millions of Americans 65 and older signed for Medicare Parts A & B. It has protected millions of people from poor health, premature death and bankruptcy!
There have been changes made to Medicare since 1965. President Nixon made the first major change to Medicare when he signed a law expanding coverage to include people under 65 with disabilities, and people with End Stage Renal Disease. Years later, it was expanded to include people with ALS.
The next big change came when President George W. Bush signed the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, which added the optional prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D).
The Welcome to Medicare visit is not the same as a routine physical exam or annual Medicare Wellness visit. The Welcome to Medicare visit is supposed to be an introduction to Medicare and should focus on disease prevention and detection to help you live a healthier life. It is sometimes referred to as the “Initial Preventive Physical Exam”… or IPPE. The Welcome to Medicare visit is a one-time-only visit covered by Medicare Part B. That means that you don’t have to pay a co-pay or coinsurance — there is no additional cost to you. You have twelve months from the date of your initial enrollment into Medicare Part B to complete the visit.
During your Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit, you and your doctor should discuss disease education and prevention. Your doctor should also review your medical and health history, such as:
- Past medical/surgical history, such as illness, hospital stays, operations, allergies, and injuries
- Current medications and supplements, including over-the-counter vitamins
- Depression and safety screening
- Family health history
- History of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use
- Physical activities
The visit will also include:
- Measurements for:
- Blood pressure
- Body mass index
- A simple vision test – (Not normally covered by Medicare)
- A written plan for screenings, shots and other preventive services you may need
- In some cases, a discussion about creating an advanced directive
If diagnostic tests or other services are performed that are not covered by the Welcome to Medicare visit, you may be responsible for co-pays and coinsurance.
You should take the following items with you to your visit: Medical records, including immunization records; a detailed family health history; and a full list of medications and supplements, including vitamins.