The answer, as always, is it depends. But, before you think this will be an article about eligibility requirements rest assured it is not. First, think about what ails you and how you would most like it to be treated. Do you want to be in a hospital or skilled nursing facility? Do you want to be in and out of doctors’ offices? Certainly on some level these may be unavoidable. But before you get to that point, consider the following:
Recently, >this article came out of Boston declaring that Medicare will cover Yoga. Although not technically true, Medicare does cover cardiac rehabilitative programs. Following certain heart problems including a heart attack, stenting, bypass, and transplant, Medicare will chip in for care aimed at preventing future heart problems. This care may include education, counseling, and yes, yoga. Medicare has recognized the value of exercise and diet in preventing future heart issues. And while we’re talking about heart care…
As of last year, Medicare will cover 100% of smoking cessation counseling for eligible Medicare recipients, even without proof of smoking-related health problems. As the links between smoking and a number of diseases including cancer and heart disease become stronger and more diverse, smoking has reached the forefront of eligible preventable causes of disease. Previously, the recipient of smoking cessation had to chip in for the care. Beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare covers all the costs for up to eight counseling sessions per year.
Depending on your coverage, Medicare may cover a potion of both inpatient and outpatient counseling for mental health and substance abuse. The care must be provided by a doctor or otherwise qualified professional, but may include various types of psychotherapy and psychology. Often when people find their health waning or their mobility decreased, a certain level of depression follows closely behind. Why not let Medicare pick up a portion of the therapy needed to keep your mental health in check. It sure beats “retail therapy.”
The people who qualify for Medicare-covered shoes certainly aren’t thinking of walking into a retail shoe store for the latest fashions. However, consider how important shoes are to your sense of independence and mobility. Therapeutic and orthopedic shoes may be covered by Medicare for diabetics, prosthetics, and leg braces. If you’re in need of special footwear, don’t overlook Medicare’s coverage.
The above are just some of the health care Medicare may cover. The point is, remember to ask if the coverage you need might be available for your treatment preferences. Additionally, if you are not yet to the point of eligibility for Medicare, or Medi-Cal, planning ahead for future illness should be part of your long-term care and estate planning. You may want to consider a QMap trust with a qualified attorney even before you have health problems. Similar issues apply for VA benefits that can help pay for assisted living or in home care. Now that you know some of the breadth of government-provided coverage, it is not difficult to see how much Medicare or Medi-Cal can help when you are ill.
And while, we are discussing some of the more surprising news in long-term care planning, I will leave you with this entertaining story about tattooed advance health care directives. This office reserves a general judgment about such tattoos, but I will point out that these “directives” are very difficult to change!