Medicare Depression Screening

Depression is a mental health condition that impacts mood. It’s a fact that struggling with depression can be difficult – no matter what age you are. Not sure if you are wrestling with depression? Your primary care provider can provide a screening for depression to ensure that the condition is diagnosed and treated accurately.

Depression affects around 19 million people in the United States, including more than two million adults 65 years of age or older. Although the onset of depression in adults usually appears around age 30, it is one of the most common behavioral health issues in retirement age.

Does Medicare cover depression screening?

Medicare Part B covers depression screenings once annually. You do not need to show symptoms or signs of depression to qualify for the screening, either. In fact, most of the time, you will complete the screening with your regular doctor’s visit.

Just keep in mind when scheduling that the screening needs to be conducted by your primary care physician in their primary care office. Medicare won’t pay for screenings that happen in a hospital, emergency room, or skilled nursing facility.

According to The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a primary care setting is where health care services are available to patients with health care professionals that take care of most of your personal health care needs. An emergency room, independent testing clinics, or skilled nursing and hospice facilities would not be included.

However, CMS does allow for others in the primary care setting to assist your primary care physician:

“Staff-assisted depression care supports consist of clinical staff (e.g., nurse, physician assistant) in the primary care setting who can advise the physician of screening results and who can facilitate and coordinate referrals to mental health treatment.”

What does depression screening include?
Usually, your doctor will provide a questionnaire that is designed to show if you are at risk for depression or are already displaying signs of depression. Suppose your annual depression screening results show that you are depressed or could be at risk for developing clinical depression. In that case, your doctor will perform a more comprehensive assessment and will talk about treatment options.

If needed, they will refer you to additional mental health care services. If this happens, keep in mind that Medicare may not cover some services that your doctor recommends. That means you may need to pay for some or all of the costs out of pocket. So be sure you ask your doctor important questions about the recommendations and see if Medicare will cover these screening tools.

Who is at risk for depression?
Retirees often develop depression. This could be because they may not socialize as much as they used to or feel like their purpose in life has changed dramatically. In addition, other people that have a family history of depression may be at greater risk for developing it.

To combat depression, mental health professionals recommend staying connected with people that are important in your life. Replace your work routine with something else, so that you can find a new sense of purpose. Physical activity, your diet, and even a normal sleep routine can help with depression.

Our Medicare insurance specialists understand that you may have questions about your specific coverage. Contact us today for information on how we can help you select, purchase, and enroll in Medicare insurance plans, or to learn more about what your current Medicare plan covers.