With the health--care reform laws, you're now eligible to get certain types of free preventive care, starting in 2011. These include:
Annual vaccinations, such as flue and pneumonia shots;
Pap tests and pelvic exams every two years;
Nutrition help if you have kidney problems or diabetes;
Cholesterol blood checks every five years;
Bone density tests of osteoporosis every two years;
Mammograms once a year;
Prostate exams and PSA tests every year;
Diabetes checks twice a year'
Colonoscopy and screenings at varying times.
However, if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, check to be sure you're covered on free screenings. Read the fine print.
If you hit the prescription cost "doughnut hole" in 2010, you'll have a 50 percent discount on name-brand drugs in 2011.
If you need medical equipment, changes have been made there, too. Medicare now puts all contracts for medical equipment out for bid. If you have the original Medicare, you'll likely have to get your medical equipment and supplies such as oxygen, from and approved supplier. If your current supplier is not in the program, the only way your equipment will be paid for if that supplier signs up. Beware while traveling: If you don't use an approved supplier, you'll pay full price.
If you don't have the Medicare handbook that was sent to you last October. look online at www.medicare.gov
for the "Medicare and You 2011 Handbook." Look for the blue apple symbols in the handbook to see preventive-care items. The site also has ZIP code directory for equipment suppliers. Or call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.