One growing problem faced by Medicare beneficiaries who are age 65 or older is obesity. According to a report based on U.S. Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-related Statistics research, obesity rates for beneficiaries have increased by 38 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Being obese can take a toll on one’s health. Obesity is a predisposing factor in numerous diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart disease, and others. Not only does it affect you physically, but it can also drain your life savings. But, you can monitor your weight, the food you eat, and other lifestyle choices like going for a walk instead of watching TV.
A study by the University of Maryland tried to determine the relationship between Medicare spending and weight. Beneficiaries whose body mass index is within normal limits increased annual Medicare spending by $122. (Body mass index or BMI checks if the percentage of fat in your body is appropriate for your height and weight.) However, for beneficiaries who are obese, spending increases more than double the rate of those with a normal weight. That’s a $271 increase every year.
Lucky, last December 2011, Medicare extended its coverage to help beneficiaries fight obesity. Obesity screenings, as well as in-person behavioral therapy sessions, are now covered with no out-of-pocket costs. The cost of dietary counseling and weight loss programs may be covered as long as it is supervised by your doctor. Through obesity screenings, you can monitor your weight, protect your health, and bring down your health care costs.
For health care services that Medicare does not cover, you can supplement your Medicare Part A and B benefits with a Medigap plan or replace original Medicare with a Medicare Advantage plan. With Medigap plans, as long as you enroll during your initial open enrollment period, no health questions are asked and your application cannot be declined. You can also enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan when you are first eligible or during the annual open enrollment and all Advantage plans provide health care coverage regardless of pre-existing health conditions with the exception of ESRD (end-stage renal disease).