Preventive screenings are covered by Medicare at no cost to the patient, but sometimes there will be a bill to pay. A colonoscopy is the example I use with my clients to explain how “free” tests and procedures sometimes turn out not to be free.
Last month, a client called me to complain about a bill she received for her colonoscopy. “Should I pay this bill?” she asked. “I thought this test was supposed to be free!”
My quick reply to her question was, “Yes, you must pay that bill”. Then I said, “They found polyps and removed them, didn’t they?” She wondered how I could know the results of her colonoscopy, so I told her how a free screening can turn into a billable procedure.
A preventive screening colonoscopy is “free” to the patient – but when the doctor finds polyps and removes them, that preventive screening procedure turns into “outpatient surgery”. This client told me her bill was $250, and sure enough, her Medicare Advantage plan has a $250 co-pay for outpatient surgery. This is how I deduced that polyps had been found and removed during her colonoscopy.
Here is the list of preventive screenings covered by Medicare at no cost to the patient. I’ve highlighted the most common ones.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening
Alcohol Misuse Screening and Counseling
Bone Mass Measurement (Bone Density Test)
Cardiovascular Disease (Behavorial Therapy)
Cardiovascular Screenings (cholesterol, lipids, triglycerides)
Colorectal Cancer Screenings
Mammogram (screening for breast cancer)
Obesity Screening and Counseling
Pap Test and Pelvic Exam (includes a breast exam)
Prostate Cancer Screenings