Resources to Help You Stay Healthy in the New Year
By Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.
December 14, 2012
As the New
Year gets closer, it's a good time to think about how to stay healthy in
important way to do that is by getting regular medical checkups. Depending on
your age and health needs, these visits may include certain types of preventive
and screening tests.
covers you or a family member, you may have already taken advantage of some of
the new benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These benefits
include a "Welcome to Medicare" annual wellness visit at no cost to
people who are new to the program.
annual wellness visit can give your health care provider a good picture of your
overall health. During that time, he or she can also offer the education you
may need to improve your health. During 2012, an estimated 2.5 million people
covered by Medicare received a wellness visit.
The ACA also
makes a wide range of preventive and screening tests more available to patients
by no longer requiring Medicare Part B co-insurance and deductibles payments.
screenings can, for example, tell if you need to start medicines or change your
diet to manage diabetes or high blood pressure. This year, more than 23 million
people with Medicare received one or more preventive and screening services,
according to the Department of Health and Human
preventive and screenings tests available under the ACA include:
- Bone mass measurement (also known as bone density test):
Covered every 2 years.
- Cholesterol and other cardiovascular
screening: Tests for
cholesterol, lipid, and triglyceride levels are covered every 5 years.
- Colorectal cancer screening: Medicare covers colonoscopy tests once
every 2 years for people at high risk; otherwise, once every 10 years.
- Diabetes screening: Up to two fasting blood glucose
tests are covered each year.
- Flu shot: Medicare covers a shot once per flu
season in the fall or winter.
- Mammogram: Screening mammograms are covered
once every 12 months. Diagnostic mammograms are covered when medically
- Prostate cancer screening: Medicare covers a digital rectal
exam once each year; prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests are covered once
Select for a full list
of Medicare-covered preventive and screening services.
If a test
identifies a health condition that needs medicines or another kind of
treatment, you can learn more about your options with consumer summaries
developed as part of AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program. Forty publications are available to
consumers for free. They describe in plain English the benefits and risks of
different treatments for various health conditions.
They do not
replace your health care team's recommendations. However, they give
information on the pros and cons of specific treatment options that can help
you decide the best approach for you. Many of the consumer summaries are also available
the publication on medicines for Type 2 diabetes describes how diabetes medicines
(generic and brand names) work to control blood sugar. Charts show benefits and
possible side effects of different types of medicines taken alone or if two are
taken together. The summary also includes price information for each generic
and brand name drug for a one-month supply.
consumer summary helps patients decide how to choose the best type of medicine for high blood
high blood pressure is important, because it can lead to heart disease, heart
attack, kidney disease, and stroke. The publication covers the benefits and
possible risks of 3 types of medicines for high blood pressure and how they
compare with each other. It also includes price information for each generic
and brand name drug for a one-month supply.
recent consumer summary helps patients learn how to check their blood pressure at home.
Make a New
Year's resolution to stay on top of your health needs. You will find many
resources to help you make smart decisions.
Carolyn Clancy, and that's my advice on how to navigate the health care system.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Effective Health Care Program: Research Summaries for Consumers, Clinicians,
for Type 2 Diabetes: A Review of the Research for Adults: Consumer Summary
Medicines for High Blood Pressure: A Review of the Research on ACEIs, ARBs, and
Measuring Your Blood Pressure at Home: A Review of the
Resources for Adults
Department of Health and Human Services
Medicare visit: Medicare.gov
and Screening Services: Medicare.gov
Medicare save $5 billion on prescription drugs because of health law. December
Current as of December 2012
Resources to Help You Stay Healthy in the New Year. Navigating the Health Care System: Advice Columns from Dr. Carolyn Clancy, December 14, 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/cc/cc121412.htm