Why Medicare is Important for Seniors with Diabetes
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If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you may need to regularly test your blood sugar and inject yourself with insulin if your body is unable to produce this critical hormone.1 For some seniors who are on a fixed income, the additional costs that stem from a diabetes diagnosis may be too much for their budget to bear. That’s where Medicare comes in.
Medicare is available to people aged 65 and over. It covers a wide variety of medical services and expenses, depending on the plan you select. Medicare Part A and Part B are often called the “Original Medicare” and they’re available through your local Social Security office. Typically, Medicare Part A carries no premiums as long as you or your spouse has worked at least 10 years in the United States. Part B and Part D each carries a reasonable monthly premium.2
If you have diabetes, it pays to be aware of all the different ways that Medicare can help you. Here are some of the reasons why Medicare is so critical to seniors with diabetes.
It provides equipment and testing materials that people with diabetes need to keep their blood glucose levels under control
Medicare Part B offers outpatient coverage. Under Medicare Part B, people with diabetes can obtain any sort of device or testing equipment that their doctor says is medically necessary to treat their diabetes.
It covers blood glucose monitors, testing strips, lancets, and a few different types of insulin pumps. This part of your Medicare package also covers visits to your doctor and any lab work that your doctor orders.3 This is especially important as your doctor will likely want to monitor your health regularly. Plus, you may need additional diagnostic appointments to test for related conditions like kidney or cardiovascular disease.
It provides training and nutritional consultation for people who need to learn about diabetes
If you were diagnosed with diabetes later in life, it’s likely that your diet and lifestyle will need to change — and quickly. As such, Medicare Part B covers nutrition therapy and diabetes self-management training for people who are newly diagnosed and are struggling to figure out how to make positive changes in their diet and lifestyle.
Seeing a nutrition therapist can be extremely helpful. They can help you plan meals and teach you which ingredients to watch out for at the grocery store. Your doctor may also recommend diabetes self-management training. These types of courses are designed to help educate people on glycemic control and how to test their blood sugar accurately and safely.4
It provides coverage for doctor’s appointments and testing
Medicare Part B is extremely comprehensive.
In fact, it not only covers the doctor’s appointments you’ll need, but it also covers the lab work and testing materials your doctor may order. These tests and diagnostic screenings will help protect your long-term health from the risks associated with diabetes. It covers at least one doctor’s appointment per year, as well as any other medically necessary screenings and tests.
It provides coverage for hospital stays and nursing facilities
Medicare Part A covers any medically necessary hospital stays, as well as nursing facilities.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to manage your diabetes at home and will never have to check in to a hospital. But if you do, it’s a relief to know that your stay will be covered, minus a small deductible.
As of 2018, the Part A deductible was $134 per benefit period, but there may be additional costs depending on the length of your hospital stay.
If you choose Medicare Advantage, you may be able to access other benefits that will help you maintain your health
If you choose to register in Medicare Advantage (also called Medicare Part C), there may be additional benefits that you’re eligible for once you sign up.
Medicare Advantage is a Medicare health plan offered by a private insurer that includes the same coverage as Medicare Parts A and B but may cover additional benefits depending on your plan. Some common additional benefits include routine eye and dental care.5
Diabetes can increase your risk for debilitating eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma, so having routine eye exams covered will save you lots of money and encourage you to stay on top of your ocular health.6
If you opt in, Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs like insulin
The last part of Medicare is Part D, which is prescription drug coverage offered by a private insurance company that’s been approved by Medicare.
Medicare Part D is optional and many people who get prescription drug coverage as a benefit in a Medicare Part C plan find that they don’t need it. However, if you have diabetes, having some kind of prescription drug coverage is a necessity. If you use injectable insulin, that cost adds up fast, especially once you include supplies like syringes, swabs, and gauze.
If diagnosed with diabetes, dealing with your new health reality can have a huge impact on your life. Medicare can make it easier and lessen the impact on your wallet.
If you’re just starting the enrolment process or are looking to increase your coverage, doing your research will help you find the best plan to fit your life.