Watch KFOR Live Interactive Radar

4 seniors: Don’t be surprised by medical bills

OKLAHOMA CITY – Many preventative and screening services are free, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but that doesn’t mean all services are without charge.

Most of Medicare’s preventive services are available to all Part B beneficiaries for free, with no copays or deductibles, as long as you meet basic eligibility standards.

Mammograms; colonoscopies; shots against flu, pneumonia, and hepatitis B; screenings for diabetes, depression, and heart conditions; and counseling to combat obesity, alcohol abuse, and smoking are just some of Medicare’s lengthy list of covered services. But to get these services for free, you need to go to a doctor who accepts Medicare.

Also, the tests are free only if they’re used at specified intervals.

For a complete list of services along with their eligibility requirements, visit Medicare.gov and click on the “What Medicare Covers” tab at the top of the page, followed by “Preventive & screening services.”

Hidden Costs

You also need to know that while the previously listed Medicare services are completely free, you can be charged for certain diagnostic services or additional tests or procedures related to the preventive service. For example, if your doctor finds and removes a polyp during your preventive care colonoscopy screening, the removal of the polyp is considered diagnostic and you will likely be charged for it.

You may also have to pay a facility fee depending on where you receive the service. Certain hospitals, for example, will often charge separate facilities fees when you are receiving a preventive service. And, you can also be charged for a doctor’s visit if you meet with a physician before or after the service.

To eliminate billing surprises, talk to your doctor before any preventive service procedure to find out if you may be subject to a charge and what it would be.

Medicare Advantage Members

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, your plans are also required to cover the same free preventive services as original Medicare as long as you see in-network providers. If you see providers that are not in your plan’s network, charges will typically apply.