Does Medicare Cover An Annual Skin Check?
A friend called me for advice after getting this message from her dermatologist’s office.
“As recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, we encourage all patients to schedule an annual skin exam. It has been more than one year since your last one. Please call to us today.”
My friend wanted to know whether she should make this appointment. She has reasons for concern.
No Medicare coverage but…
My friend’s question was, “Will Medicare pay for a skin check?” Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover skin cancer screening in asymptomatic people. In other words, if there are no skin issues, Medicare won’t pay for the exam.
But Medicare can cover a visit initiated by a concerned patient who has noticed skin changes. Here’s a short list from the American Cancer Society of signs and symptoms thar raise concerns:
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- Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas that can look like a scar
- Raised reddish patches that might be itchy or bleed
- Raised growths or lumps, sometimes with a lower area in the center
- Shiny flat pink area on the skin or a pink pimple
- Open sores that don’t heal, or that heal and then come back, and
- Wart-like growths.
Those who have Original Medicare can see a dermatologist who accepts Medicare assignment. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries should find a provider in-network and check for referral and prior authorization requirements.
Take a lesson from my husband. Rich had a patch of skin on his nose that just looked “funny” and didn’t go away. It was no big deal, so he wasn’t going to cry wolf. I finally made an appointment for him. That little patch turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer. He had three more occurrences over the years. All were treated successfully, with no complications, primarily because he sought early treatment.
Protect your skin
As we head into the summer season, remember these skin protection tips.
- Avoid indoor tanning booths.
- Stay in the shade whenever possible.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and UV protection clothing.
- Put on sunglasses.
- Wear a hat that protects your face, ears and back of your neck.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Pay attention to your skin. Take care of it. And don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a dermatologist if something looks funny.
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