Preventative Health Care is one of the most important services for people over 65, and one of the best tools offered by Medicare. This is, at least in part, to help offset the extreme frequency with which Americans suffer from chronic conditions: According to the Commonwealth Fund, 87% of older Americans live with a chronic health condition, with 68% reporting at least two or more.
Preventative Health Services and Screening help to catch these ailments in their infancy in order to reduce their effect and eventual cost, both to the person suffering from the disease and on the Medicare system at large, and ease the burden of managing health care expenses.
In the first post in this four-part series, we discussed how Medicare Plan B health insurance covers all the costs associated with most of the more common preventative screenings and services, from diabetes to depression. In this second installment, we will be talking specifically about the types of preventative services that are recommended for men over 65.
Most men should be well verse with colonoscopy exams and other colorectal screening exams by the time they enroll in Medicare, as the starting age should be at the latest 50, these tests become increasingly important as you age. That is because a 70-year-old is almost three times as likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than a 50-year-old. While these exams have been the subject of sitcom jokes for decades, they remain the best way to identify precancerous polyps or early stages of cancer.
Like colorectal exams, the prostate exams should begin well before you have reach Medicare aid, but here, the increased risk as you age is even greater. Between age 50 and 70, the chance of getting prostate cancer in the next ten years more than triples! There are a number of different ways to check for prostate cancer, including prostate specific antigen blood tests and digital rectal exams. Depending on the result of the first two tests, there may need to be a follow up screening.
While these two screening services are specifically more applicable for men, they should also engage in the more general types of screening. In our next installment we will discuss the tests specifically relevant for women.