Medicare Preventive Services

Medicare covers a range of wellness and preventive services for free to help you stay healthy. Some preventive services include exams, shots, lab tests and screenings. You get a free “Welcome to Medicare” checkup along with annual wellness visits to help prevent disease and disability.

Christian Simmons, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
Fact Checked
Fact Checked

Our fact-checking process starts with vetting all sources to ensure they are authoritative and relevant. Then we verify the facts with original reports published by those sources, or we confirm the facts with qualified experts. For full transparency, we clearly identify our sources in a list at the bottom of each page.

Cite Us
How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Simmons, C. (2022, May 5). Medicare Preventive Services. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/preventive/

MLA Simmons, Christian. "Medicare Preventive Services." RetireGuide.com, 5 May 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/preventive/.

Chicago Simmons, Christian. "Medicare Preventive Services." RetireGuide.com. Last modified May 5, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/preventive/.

Why Trust RetireGuide.com
Why You Can Trust Us

Content created by RetireGuide and sponsored by our partners.

Key Principles

RetireGuide’s mission is to provide seniors with resources that will help them reach important financial decisions that affect their retirement. Our goal is to arm our readers with knowledge that will lead to a healthy and financially sound retirement.

We’re dedicated to providing thoroughly researched Medicare information that guides you toward making the best possible health decisions for you and your family.

RetireGuide LLC has partnerships with Senior Market Sales (SMS) and GoHealth.

Our partners are able to be reached through the phone numbers and/or forms provided on our website.

The content and tools created by RetireGuide adhere to strict Medicare and editorial guidelines to ensure quality and transparency.

Editorial Independence

While the experts from our partners are available to help you navigate various Medicare plans, RetireGuide retains complete editorial control over the information it publishes.

We operate independently from our partners, which allows the award-winning RetireGuide team to provide you with unbiased information.

Visitors can trust our inflexibility regarding our editorial autonomy. We do not allow our partnership to influence RetireGuide’s editorial content whatsoever.

Does Medicare Cover Preventive Services?

Medicare covers a variety of preventive services at no cost to help detect and monitor your health as you age.

Some popular Medicare-covered services include flu shots, mammograms, cancer screenings, diabetes screenings, STD testing and bone density testing.

Medicare Coverage of Preventive Services
Original Medicare (Parts A and B)
You will not pay a deductible, copayment or coinsurance for most preventive services with Original Medicare. To avoid costs, you must visit a Medicare-participating provider.
Medicare Advantage
Similar to Original Medicare beneficiaries, people with Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans will not pay a deductible, copayment or coinsurance for most preventive services. However, you may be charged if you visit an out-of-network provider.

Medicare’s Preventive Services Chart for 2022

Since Medicare covers areas that are considered medically necessary, there is a wide range of preventive services that are available to beneficiaries. Each service varies in terms of how often it can be used.

ServiceHow Often You Can Be Checked
Alcohol misuse screening and counselingOnce per lifetime
Annual Wellness VisitAnnually
Bone mass measurementsEvery two years
Cardiovascular disease screeningEvery five years
Cervical cancer screeningEvery five years
Cholesterol testingEvery five years
Colorectal cancer screeningDuration varies depending on the specific type of screening and risk level of patient
Counseling to prevent tobacco useTwo cessation attempts per year
Depression screeningAnnually
Diabetes screeningEvery six months for prediabetic patients and 12 months if previously tested but not diagnosed
Diabetes self-management training10 hours in the initial year and two hours each calendar year after the 10 hours is completed
Flu shotOnce per flu season
Glaucoma screeningAnnually
Hepatitis B screeningOnce for beneficiaries who don’t meet the high-risk definition and annually for beneficiaries with continued high risk
Hepatitis B shotTwo scheduled doses one month apart
Hepatitis C screeningOnce for patients born 1945 to 1965 not considered high risk and annually for high-risk patients with continued drug injection since the last test
HIV screeningAnnually
IBT for cardiovascular diseaseAnnually
IBT for obesityUp to 22 visits in a 12-month period
Initial preventive physical examOnce per lifetime
Lung cancer screeningAnnually
Mammography screeningAnnually if you are 40 or older
Medical Nutrition TherapyThree hours in the first year and two hours each year after
Diabetes Prevention ProgramUp to 24 sessions within two years
Pap Test ScreeningAnnually for high-risk beneficiaries and every two years for low-risk beneficiaries
Pneumococcal ShotTiming varies
Prolonged Preventive ServicesFrequency varies
Prostate Cancer ScreeningAnnually
STI ScreeningVaries by STI but typically one screening per year for increased risk beneficiaries
Pelvic ExamAnnually for high-risk beneficiaries and every two years for low-risk beneficiaries
Ultrasound AAA ScreeningOnce per lifetime

Exams and Wellness Visits Covered by Medicare

When you first enroll in Medicare Part B, you are eligible to receive a free “Welcome to Medicare” checkup within the first 12 months of signing up.

This checkup is different from a standard physical exam. It is an opportunity for your doctor to assess your current wellness, understand your medical history and provide a roadmap for your future care.

It also includes height, weight and blood pressure measurements along with a simple vision test and referrals for screening services.

After your Welcome to Medicare visit, you can get an annual wellness exam every 12 months.

Yearly wellness exams include a health risk assessment, which lets your doctor update your prevention plan and provide you with personalized health advice.

These annual exams also include a cognitive impairment assessment to check for signs of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Don't Leave Your Health to Chance
You've worked hard your whole life by thinking ahead. Now do the same for your health. Get free Medicare help to plan your future.

Lab Tests and Screenings Covered by Medicare

Screenings to detect disease are typically considered preventive if you’ve had no prior related symptoms.

In some cases, Medicare will only cover screenings if you have certain risk factors.

Medicare also covers medically necessary clinical diagnostic lab tests, if ordered by your doctor or practitioner. These lab tests help your doctor diagnose or rule out a potential illness or condition.

Medicare covers screenings for many conditions that affect seniors, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and different types of cancer.

Main Non-Cancer Screenings Medicare Covers
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • HIV/AIDS

Medicare will also cover several shots and vaccines, including flu, pneumonia and hepatitis B at no cost to you.

Coverage includes one flu shot per year. Medicare also covers two different pneumococcal shots to protect you from different strains of a bacteria that can cause pneumonia.

Cancer Screenings Covered by Medicare

Medicare covers some screening tests used to find cancer.

It’s important to talk to your doctor about any family history of cancer. This helps health care providers decide which screenings are fit for your needs.

Types of Cancer Screenings Covered by Medicare
Breast Cancer
One mammogram is fully covered by Medicare every 12 months for all women ages 40 and older. Medicare also covers a clinical breast exam once every 24 months.
Cervical and Vaginal Cancer
Women who are considered low risk for cervical or vaginal cancers can receive a Pap test and pelvic exam at no cost once every two years. You can get these screenings once a year if you’re at a heightened risk for developing cervical or vaginal cancer.
Colorectal Cancer
Medicare covers five different screening tools and tests used to detect colon cancer, including multitarget stool DNA tests, barium enemas, colonoscopies, fecal occult blood tests and flexible sigmoidoscopies. It varies how often you can receive these services at no cost, but Medicare covers all expenses if your doctor accepts assignment.
Lung Cancer
Medicare Part B covers lung cancer screenings once a year if you meet several conditions. You must be between the ages of 55 to 77, have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer, currently smoke or quit smoking within the last 15 years and have a written order from your doctor.
Prostate Cancer
Medicare covers prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests once a year for men over 50. You pay nothing for this test. Digital rectal exams will cost you a 20% copayment, and your Part B deductible applies.

Other Screenings and Counseling Services

Along with disease and cancer screenings, Medicare provides programs for health monitoring, counseling and education.

These programs and services can help you identify negative behaviors and receive support to form healthier habits.

Other screening and counseling services covered by Medicare include:

For example, smokers can receive up to eight tobacco-use cessation counseling visits every year.

Obesity behavioral therapy provides sessions to overweight patients with a body mass index of 30 or higher. It includes a dietary assessment and counseling to help you lose weight using a program focused on diet and exercise.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare Coverage for Preventive Services

Does Medicare cover preventive care at 100%?
Medicare typically covers 100% of the cost associated with preventive services. But there are limits on how often you can receive different services. For example, you are only covered for one flu shot each flu season.
How many preventive physical exams does Medicare cover?
Medicare will cover a single initial preventive physical exam within the first 12 months of your Medicare enrollment. After that, you are eligible for an annual wellness check each year. A wellness check is not the same thing as an annual physical, which Medicare does not cover.
What preventive services are not covered by Medicare?
Medicare covers a significant range of preventive services, with limits on how often you can receive those services. While they are typically free, you will likely have to pay for follow-up treatment because of a preventive service.
Last Modified: May 5, 2022

8 Cited Research Articles

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 24). Pneumococcal Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/pneumo/public/index.html
  2. American Cancer Society. (2019, May 13). Medicare Coverage for Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/finding-and-paying-for-treatment/understanding-health-insurance/government-funded-programs/medicare-medicaid/medicare-coverage-for-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection.html
  3. AARP. (n.d.). What Is the “Welcome to Medicare” Checkup? Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-qa-tool/whats-a-medicare-wellness-visit/
  4. Barry, P. (n.d.). Can Medicare Help Me Lose Weight? Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-03-2012/medicare-weight-loss-counseling-99.html
  5. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Your Guide to Medicare Preventive Services. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/10110-Your-Guide-to-Medicare-Preventive-Services.pdf
  6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Diagnostic Laboratory Tests. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/diagnostic-laboratory-tests
  7. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (n.d.) Preventive & Screening Services. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/preventive-screening-services
  8. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (n.d.) Yearly “Wellness” Visits. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/yearly-wellness-visits