Measures Can Help to Identify, Treat Conditions Before They Worsen
INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Shortly after infants are born they receive their first health
screening. This is the first of a lifetime of screenings, continuing
well into adulthood.
“Many people don’t realize there is a schedule for the types of
screenings they should get and when they should get them,” said Dr.
Richard Frank, medical director for Medicare programs at Anthem Inc.
“It’s important to stick to that schedule to maintain optimal health,
particularly as we age.”
While a doctor can provide a list of specific recommendations, Frank
says some of the more important screenings for older adults have costs
that may be covered by a Medicare or Medicare Advantage (MA) plan. These
include the following:
Diabetes screening. More than one-fourth of people age 65 and
older have diabetes.i It is one of the top causes of death
for older adults. Diabetes can be detected by one of a number of blood
tests. Testing should begin at age 45 and continue every three years.ii
People with pre-diabetes can often reduce their risk of diabetes with
weight loss and increased physical activity. Drug therapy may also be
prescribed. Anyone who progresses to diabetes may be prescribed
medication and should have regular blood tests as well as eye and foot
Body Mass Index (BMI) screening. Having a BMI of more than 30
percent is considered to be obese. Obesity contributes to a host of
chronic diseases.iii That’s why it’s important to have a BMI
screening at least once a year. This can be done either electronically
or through a calculation of height and weight. A qualified physician can
help develop an appropriate diet and exercise plan for those diagnosed
Colorectal screening. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of
cancer-related deaths in the United States.iv Screening for
colon cancer should begin no later than age 50 and continue every five
years until age 75.v There are several different screening
options. Screening can find precancerous polyps and remove them before
they turn into cancer or catch cancer at an early stage when treatment
often leads to a cure. Early detection of colorectal cancer is the top
reason for a recent decrease in deaths from this disease.
Osteoporosis screening. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes
bones to become weak and break easily. Anyone can get osteoporosis, but
it is most common in women. As a result, women should be screened for
osteoporosis beginning no later than age 65.vi There are a
number of imaging tests to help detect the disease. People with
osteoporosis may be prescribed medication and encouraged to make
Hypertension (high blood pressure) screening. Hypertension can
lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, renal failure and even
death if not treated. Screening is done with a blood pressure cuff.
Blood pressure screening should be taken at least annually, beginning at
age 45.vii People with hypertension will likely be prescribed
medication and encouraged to make lifestyle changes, including adopting
a healthy diet and exercising.
Lipids (cholesterol) screening. Heart attack and stroke are
usually caused by atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), which
develops because of a build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque.viii
Levels are measured with a blood test, which should be administered at
least once every five years. Treatment generally starts with a drug
called a statin, along with lifestyle changes, including diet and
Falls prevention screening. One in three older adults fall each
yearix, resulting in hip fractures, traumatic brain injuriesx
or even death. To prevent this, doctors assess older adults for their
risk of a fall, including reviewing medications and checking vision and
balance. Those at risk of falling should take measures to make their
“By getting these screenings, and others, diseases and other health
conditions can be detected early before they worsen,” Frank said. “Many
conditions can be treated successfully by maintenance medication that
may be covered in all or in part by a person’s Medicare Part D plan.
Additionally, most MA plans provide other benefits, such as free fitness
programs or smoking cessation products, to help promote healthy
This information is intended for educational purposes only and should
not be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult your health care
provider for advice about treatments that may affect your health.
Anthem affiliates are PPOs, HMOs and PDPs with a Medicare contract.
Enrollment in Anthem affiliates depends on contract renewal.
About Anthem, Inc.
Anthem is working to transform health care with trusted and caring
solutions. Our health plan companies deliver quality products and
services that give their members access to the care they need. With
nearly 70 million people served by its affiliated companies, including
more than 38 million enrolled in its family of health plans, Anthem is
one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies. For more
information about Anthem’s family of companies, please visit www.antheminc.com/companies.
ii Diabetes Care Volume 37, Supplement 1, January 2014
iii NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative Expert Panel on the
Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Obesity in Adults (US).
Bethesda (MD): National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 1998 Sep.
accessed Feb. 3, 2015.
accessed Feb. 3, 2015.
vii 2014 Evidence-Based Guideline for the Management of High
Blood Pressure in Adults Report from the Panel Members Appointed to the
Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8)
viii 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood
Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults
Doug Bennett Jr., 502-889-2103