Help You Stay Healthy in the New Year
By Carolyn M.
December 14, 2012
As the New Year
gets closer, it’s a good time to think about how
to stay healthy in 2013.
One 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
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
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 Services.
preventive and screenings tests available under
the ACA include:
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
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 each year.
a full list of Medicare-covered preventive and
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 in Spanish.
For example, the
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.
summary helps patients decide how to choose the
type of medicine for high blood pressure.
Treating 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
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
I’m Dr. Carolyn
Clancy, and that’s my advice on how to navigate
the health care system.
for Healthcare Research and Quality
AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program:
Research Summaries for Consumers, Clinicians,
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 DRIs
Your Blood Pressure at Home: A Review of the
Resources for Adults
Department of Health and Human Services
Welcome to Medicare visit: Medicare.gov
and Screening Services: Medicare.gov
People with Medicare save $5 billion on
prescription drugs because of health law.
December 3, 2012.
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