Depressed people are more likely to receive diagnoses and be treated in primary-care settings than elsewhere. Research shows that elderly people, in fact, prefer to deal with their primary-care provider on mental health issues. In that context, coverage of depression screening may help more Medicare beneficiaries get the help they need.
As of last October, Medicare began coverage for a host of preventative services as part of the new healthcare law. One such service for the elderly is depression screening. This subject was recently addressed in a Kaiser Health News article, and it’s worth reading to learn more.
The mind/body relationship is a complex one. It is hard to deny the overall health effects of depression, perhaps even more so among the elderly. However, contrary to popular opinion, the elderly are not statistically more prone to depression than the general population.
On the other hand, the elderly are more prone to types of system-wide health difficulties that may be exacerbated by depression. To make matters worse, people of the elder generations are generally less trusting of psychology and associate a social stigma with mental illness or any admission thereof. The combination of these two factors often, and unfortunately, complicates the lives of elderly persons and their families.
Medicare now covers the cost of annual depression screening in primary-care settings with no cost sharing for beneficiaries. Medicare also covers 60 percent of the treatment for mental health problems, including depression. (Under a 2008 law, that figure is scheduled to rise to 80 percent in 2014.) If you or an elderly loved one may be suffering from depression, taking advantage of Medicare’s annual screening benefit may be a good idea and can greatly improve quality of life.
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Reference: The Kaiser Health News (April 3, 2012) “Medicare Now Covers Annual Screening For Depression”