Local News

New Year Brings Changes to Medicare

Posted January 1, 1998 12:00 a.m. EST

— The new year brings new coverage in the nation's largest health service to the elderly. Medicare will now cover offer additional benefits, including coverage of tests to help detect cancer earlier. The benefit expansion is expected to help save more lives. while controlling taxpayer costs in the medicare program.

According to Oncologist Dr. Margaret Deutsch, medical experts agree that prevention and early detection of disease reduces life threatening illness, particularly where cancer is concerned.

Women's health care also gets added attention in the new medicare coverage. Medicare will now pay for yearly mammograms, without deductibles, to detect breast cancer. It also pays for breast exams, and pelvic exams and pap smears to help detect cervical cancers.

This new plan, for the first time, pays for colo-rectal cancer screening for male and female patients over the age of 50. These benefits save patients money now, and taxpayers money later.

In July, Medicare benefits will increase again. Diabetes glucose monitoring will be paid for, whether or not the patient is insulin dependent. Diabetes education will also be covered.

Medicare also will begin paying for bone mass measurement, used in osteoporosis screening. The plan will also cover for flu and pneumococcal pneumonia shots.

This year's changes in the Medicare System will offer choices to patients. Some of the choices are familiar, such as HMOs, preferred provider plans, and other managed care options will be available. Medicare patients will recieve more information about their new choices in the mail within the next two months.