Medi­care Can Help Di­a­bet­ics

The Oakdale Leader - - PERSPECTIVE - Greg Dill

At a re­cent meet­ing of my staff, the topic of di­a­betes came up.

When we went around the ta­ble, it turned out that 25 per­cent of them have prob­lems with blood sugar. That fig­ure ex­actly matches the per­cent­age of Amer­i­cans 65 years old and older who have di­a­betes or a con­di­tion called pre-di­a­betes.

I’m shocked that such a large num­ber of Amer­i­cans are af­fected by this dis­ease, be­cause it’s a nasty one. If left un­con­trolled, di­a­betes can lead to some re­ally bad out­comes, in­clud­ing kid­ney prob­lems, glau­coma and other eye dis­or­ders, foot ul­cers, am­pu­ta­tion of feet or legs, stroke, di­a­betic coma, and even death.

The good news is that peo­ple with di­a­betes can avoid many of th­ese neg­a­tive out­comes if their dis­ease is di­ag­nosed, treated, and con­trolled. At Medi­care, we’re com­mit­ted to pre­vent­ing di­a­betes as much as pos­si­ble and treat­ing those who are di­ag­nosed with it.

If your doc­tor thinks you’re at risk for di­a­betes, Medi­care cov­ers screen­ing tests for it. And if you de­velop the dis­ease, Medi­care cov­ers a wide va­ri­ety of med­i­ca­tions, home test­ing equip­ment, sup­plies and self-man­age­ment train­ing to help you cope with it.

Screen­ing tests are used to de­tect di­a­betes early. Con­di­tions that may put you at risk for di­a­betes in­clude: high blood pres­sure, obe­sity (with cer­tain con­di­tions), im­paired glu­cose (blood sugar) tol­er­ance, high fast­ing glu­cose, a history of ab­nor­mal choles­terol and triglyc­eride lev­els.

Medi­care will pay for two di­a­betes screen­ing tests in a 12-month pe­riod. Af­ter the ini­tial screen­ing, your doc­tor will de­ter­mine when to do the sec­ond test.

You and your doc­tor can dis­cuss di­a­betes and any other health con­cerns you have dur­ing a “Wel­come to Medi­care” visit. Medi­care cov­ers this one-time re­view of your health, in­clud­ing coun­sel­ing on any screen­ings, shots, or other care you may need. (You must have this visit within the first 12 months you’re en­rolled in Medi­care Part B.)

In ad­di­tion, Medi­care cov­ers an an­nual well­ness visit with your doc­tor, dur­ing which you can de­velop or up­date a per­son­al­ized preven­tion plan based on your cur­rent health and risk fac­tors. If you do de­velop di­a­betes, Medi­care pays for self­man­age­ment train­ing to help you learn how to suc­cess­fully man­age the dis­ease. Your doc­tor must pre­scribe this train­ing for Medi­care to cover it.

The train­ing cov­ers top­ics in­clud­ing the risks of poor blood-sugar con­trol; nutri­tion and how to man­age your diet; op­tions to im­prove blood-sugar con­trol; ex­er­cise and why it’s im­por­tant to your health; and how to take your med­i­ca­tions prop­erly.

Medi­care also cov­ers med­i­cal nutri­tion ther­apy ser­vices to help you learn which foods to eat and how to fol­low an in­di­vid­u­al­ized di­a­betic meal plan.

Gen­er­ally, Medi­care Part B (med­i­cal in­sur­ance) cov­ers ser­vices and sup­plies needed by peo­ple who have or are at risk for di­a­betes. Medi­care Part D (the pre­scrip­tion drug pro­gram) helps pay for sup­plies for in­ject­ing or in­hal­ing in­sulin.

You can do many things to con­trol your di­a­betes. Talk with your doc­tor about what, how much, and when to eat. Also talk with him or her about how much you should weigh, and the dif­fer­ent ways you can reach your weight goal.

Take your med­i­ca­tions as di­rected, and dis­cuss any prob­lems you en­counter with your physi­cian. Be ac­tive for a to­tal of 30 min­utes most days. Keep tabs on your blood-sugar level, blood pres­sure, and choles­terol.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Orig­i­nal Medi­care and di­a­betes, read the brochure “Medi­care’s Cov­er­age of Di­a­betes Sup­plies & Ser­vices” at https://www.medi­care.gov/Pubs/pdf/11022-Medi­care-Di­a­betesCover­age.pdf.

Greg Dill is Medi­care’s re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tor for Ari­zona, Cal­i­for­nia, Hawaii, Ne­vada, and the Pa­cific Ter­ri­to­ries. You can al­ways get answers to your Medi­care ques­tions by call­ing 1-800-MEDI­CARE (1-800-6334227).

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