Leaders tout Medicare's new offerings for preventive care


Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 11:59 p.m.
WASHINGTON - Government and health organization leaders on Monday urged Medicare beneficiaries to take advantage of new preventive benefits, saying the emphasis on prevention will save lives and billions of dollars in health care costs.
As of Jan. 1, new enrollees to Medicare are eligible for a one-time "welcome to Medicare" physical exam, and all Medicare recipients will have access to free cardiovascular and diabetes screening.
The additions to the health program for 42 million older and disabled Americans were mandated in the Medicare expansion law that President Bush signed in December 2003.
Under the new program, Medicare beneficiaries will be eligible for up to two diabetes screenings every year and one cardiovascular screening every five years. The tests will be free, with no deductible or co-pay. The physical exam, which is not free, will be available only for the six-month period after a person enrolls in Medicare Part B. The recipient must pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the exam after meeting the yearly Part B deductible, which is $110 in 2005.

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