Our bones lose density as we age, and we become more vulnerable to injuries like broken bones and diseases like osteoporosis.
Fortunately for Medicare beneficiaries, bone density testing is covered by Medicare to increase the odds of early detection. In this guide, we outline how Medicare covers bone density testing and related care, and we detail some of the additional coverage options you may be able to consider to help pay for your tests as well as your other health care needs.
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Bone density testing does not require any special preparation on your part. You may be given a liquid to drink (or it may be administered through an IV) which will help produce better images of your bones for testing.
The test is done by using a small amount of ionized radiation and an X-ray machine to determine the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones and calculate their density. Bone density testing is also called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA.
Several factors can lower the density of your bones, including age, sex (women are more prone), tobacco and alcohol use, steroid use, malnutrition, rheumatoid arthritis, bone trauma and kidney disease.
Bone mass measurements are covered by Medicare Part B (part of Original Medicare, which is administered by the federal government) and all Medicare Advantage plans (also called Medicare Part C plans, which are offered by private insurance companies).
Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for one bone density test every two years when one or more of the following conditions are met:
If you have any of the following conditions, you may qualify for more frequent bone density testing as needed:
You will pay nothing for bone density testing when covered by Medicare Part B or a Medicare Advantage plan, as it is considered preventive care protected by the Affordable Care Act. That means there is no coinsurance or copayment, and no deductibles will apply.
Though they’re offered by private insurance companies, Medicare Advantage plans are required by federal law to cover everything that Original Medicare covers. Many plans also offer additional benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, which might include things like prescription drug coverage, fitness memberships like SilverSneakers, dental, hearing, vision and more.
Learn more about the Medicare Advantage plans available near you and how they can help cover your bone health by calling to speak with a licensed insurance agent today.
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Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
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