Last updated on November 29th, 2023.
Approximately 15% of the population relies on Medicare, which accounts for over 49 million Americans. This federally subsidized program has helped many elderly (and disabled individuals) take care of their well-being, and in some cases, has even become a literal lifesaver for seniors who need medicine, treatment, and emergency medical attention.
That being said, if you want to make the most out of your Medicare plan, you don’t need to wait for a crisis to happen. Depending on the specific plan, this particular health insurance comes with supplemental benefits that can help improve wellness, prevent disease, and keep your mental and physical health in top shape.
Here are a few common services that come with Medicare plans, which you can leverage to improve your overall well-being.
Annual Wellness Visit
Medicare Part B, the plan that covers ‘medically necessary services’, also includes annual wellness visits (AWVs). AWVs, not to be confused with annual medical examinations, are yearly appointments with your primary care physician that assess the current state of your health in order to develop a personalized plan for disease and disability prevention.
The screening procedures include a risk assessment questionnaire that reviews your current measurements, such as your weight, height, blood pressure, and body mass index. A physician will also look at your individual and family medical histories, and your current health concerns and prescriptions. Your primary care physician will also outline your risk factors when it comes to diseases as well as your options for treatment or preventive services.
Regularly making use of your available AWVs will help you combat crises before they even come to fruition. For instance, a physician might prescribe a certain diet for you based on your blood pressure — if it’s a little on the high side, they might recommend you cut down your meat intake and consume more fruits and vegetables. The goal here is to prevent disease, which can improve your well-being and ensure that you enjoy a better quality of life.
Medicare Advantage is a combination of Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B that usually comes with memberships to fitness programs. Kelsey Care Advantage details that these Medicare-sponsored fitness memberships can come with access to free fitness classes, in addition to being able to use exercise equipment and the amenities at affiliated gyms, fitness chains, and other public fitness centers for no extra cost. These fitness programs are geared specifically for seniors and are included in the Medicare Advantage, also called Part C, to promote overall health.
The two programs most Medicare Advantage providers offer include SilverSneakers and Silver & Fit. They are both designed for adults aged 65 and older, each operating in 17,000 and 14,000 fitness centers, respectively. Both offer home exercises classes, which can be convenient given the travel restrictions commonly placed during the ongoing global health crisis. Your choice of fitness program will depend on your Medicare Advantage Provider.
When choosing a yoga program for seniors, it’s important to look for classes that focus on gentle, low-impact movements, incorporate modifications for different ability levels, and prioritize safety and comfort.
Mental Health Services
In addition to AWVs, Medicare plans can help pay for many services related to mental health. Of course coverage varies per plan. But as an overview, MarketWatch notes that these include yearly screenings for depression, individual and group psychotherapy, family counseling, and psychiatric evaluations. Older adults with a mental health condition might want to upgrade to a Medicare Advantage plan, because the coverage is much bigger, as it includes both inpatient and outpatient mental health services.
Medicare exists to protect you from the costly financial burdens that come with medical expenses. However, you shouldn’t have to wait for a crisis to make use of it. Protect your health and make the most out of your medical insurance by understanding the many wellness resources it can provide you.