By Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our lives, patients are deferring routine medical visits or preventive services out of concern for their safety and health. However, these visits are critical, especially for people with certain medical conditions and older adults who are at the highest risk of contracting influenza and pneumonia. With Medicare reimbursing for telehealth visits, patients can now use video or telephone instead of face-to-face encounters for their preventive visits. Medicare beneficiaries pay nothing for most preventive services if the services are administered from a doctor or other health care provider who participates with Medicare. To protect your health during the current crisis, consider taking advantage of the following three Medicare preventive services for free:
1. Annual Wellness Visit If you have had Medicare Part B for longer than 12 months, you can get a yearly wellness visit. You pay nothing for this exam if the doctor accepts assignment. This exam is covered once every 12 months.
2. Depression Screening Mental health is just as important as physical health. For many, COVID-19 has been a source of anxiety, worry and depression. Please reach out if you need help. Medicare covers a depression screening once per year, and you pay nothing if your doctor accepts assignment.
3. Obesity Screening and Counseling According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) or 30 or adobe, increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Medicare Part B covers BMI screenings and behavioral counseling to help you lose weight if you have a BMI of 30 or higher. An easy and essential way to stay healthy during this pandemic is to get disease prevention and early detection services like exams, shots, lab tests, screenings and counseling. These services will help you take care of your body and mind and get the advice and guidance you need. Our Medicare Assistance Program (MAP) also provides free, unbiased counseling and information to help Oklahomans understand preventive services covered by Medicare.
To view a full list of preventive services covered by Medicare, visit www.oid.ok.gov/consumers/information-for-seniors/preventative-services or contact the MAP division at (800) 763-2828.
If you have questions about other insurance issues, contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071 or visit our website at www.oid.ok.gov.