How Seniors Can Use Medicare to Support Their Mental Health

How Seniors Can Use Medicare to Support Their Mental Health

This blog post has been guest written by Teresa Greenhill of Mental Health For Seniors

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When people retire, they ideally make the most of their golden years. They have more time to spend with family and friends, and more energy for travel and hobbies. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for seniors to fall into a state of depression. Time reports that one in three older persons in the United States is lonely and that this brings feelings of isolation—and related anxiety and depression—with it. Symptoms range from feelings of sadness to an inability to concentrate, strange sleep patterns, tiredness, and a loss of interest in activities that were once fun. Understandably, this makes it difficult to enjoy your golden years. Luckily, there is help available. Find out how Medicare can cover your mental health needs below.

Review your current plan

If you are going to take advantage of the benefits Medicare offers, you have to understand how the program works in the first place. There are two main types of Medicare, Original and Advantage. Original Medicare is comprised of three distinct parts. Part A covers hospital insurance, Part B covers medical insurance, and Part D covers prescription drugs. When it comes to mental health, Medicare Part B will be the most useful as it can cover outpatient visits with doctors, including psychiatrists who handle mental health issues.

Medicare Advantage brings together all three parts of Original Medicare—hospital, medical, and prescription drug insurance—under one umbrella. If you are struggling with mental health issues, you may want to upgrade to Medicare Advantage because it provides better coverage in this area. You can get care not only from traditional medical doctors but also social workers, for instance. If you live in an area with limited mental health resources, this can be a huge help. You will also enjoy the added benefits of case management that Medicare Advantage provides. This allows for the varied parts or facets of your treatment to be networked, so you can get holistic, personalized care from a variety of healthcare professionals—all under one umbrella of coverage.

Don’t miss the open enrollment period

Medicare has an open enrollment period every year: This is the period during which you can make changes to your plan, such as upgrading to Medicare Advantage. Open enrollment is held from October 15 to December 7 every year. To prepare for this year’s period, take a look at your current Medicare plan to see if you should consider expanding your coverage. For example, perhaps you take certain prescription drugs, like an anti-anxiety medication, that are currently covered by Medicare Part D—but won’t be in the future. You might want to switch to Medicare Advantage to save money on your prescriptions going forward.

When you review your annual plan, don’t just think about what you need right now. Consider your potential future needs as well. Other aspects of your health that you currently take for granted, like good dental health, hearing, and vision, may deteriorate with age. You want to be sure you have the necessary coverage when you need it.  For instance, original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids or costs for their fittings. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer added benefits in these areas.

Find providers in your area who will be able to help

Not all mental health professionals accept Medicare. Do your research before booking appointments and make sure the professional you want to see will take your coverage You can easily check the Psychology Today platform from home; it allows you to search for therapists who take Medicare via location (city or zip code). If you live in a rural area with limited access to mental health providers, check out online telehealth services. Some, like American Well, offer services tailored to those enrolled in Medicare Advantage.

You deserve to enjoy your retirement. Don’t let depression stand in the way. With these tips, you can even get affordable coverage by making the most of your Medicare benefits. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you’ll be on track for a happier, healthier retirement.

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