Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Medicare-Covered Screening Test for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms(AAA) are responsible for 9000 deaths annually in the United States. Normally Medicare does not cover screening test for AAA.

Good news for patients new to Medicare because starting this year(2007) will cover screening Ultrasound test to detect AAA in certain conditions.

I subscribe to the Medicare Newsletter and here is the good news. If you or your love-one is in the high risk group of people to have Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm(AAA), read on. Being aware that you have asymptomatic AAA may save your life. Here is the newsletter from Medicare.


New in 2007 ~ Medicare Now Provides Coverage for a One-time Ultrasound Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms as Part of the Initial Preventive Physical Examination

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) invites you to join with us in promoting awareness of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) and the new screening benefit for the early detection of this disease. Three in four aortic aneurysms are AAAs. Aortic aneurysms account for about 15,000 deaths in the United States annually; of these 9,000 are AAA-related. Men are 5 to 10 times more likely than women to have an AAA and the risk increases with age. Although AAAs may be asymptomatic for years, as many as 1 in 3 eventually rupture if left untreated. [i] [ii] Early diagnosis allows for more effective treatment and cure. Diagnosis of an AAA can be done painlessly with a simple ultrasound scan. Medicare now provides coverage for this screening service for eligible beneficiaries.

Medicare Coverage ~ Effective for dates of service on or after January 1, 2007, Medicare will pay for a one-time ultrasound screening for AAA for beneficiaries who are at risk (has a family history of AAA or is a man age 65 to 75 who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in his lifetime). Eligible beneficiaries must receive a referral for the screening as a result of their initial preventive physical examination (IPPE) also referred to as the Welcome to Medicare physical exam. There is no Part B deductible. The coinsurance/copayment applies.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Only Medicare beneficiaries who receive a referral for the AAA ultrasound screening as part of the Welcome to Medicare physical exam will be covered for the AAA benefit.

How Can You Help?As a trusted source, your recommendation is the most important factor in increasing the use of preventive services and screenings. CMS needs your help to ensure that patients new to Medicare receive their Welcome to Medicare physical exam within the first six months of their effective date in Medicare Part B and those beneficiaries at risk for AAA receive a referral for the ultrasound screening as part of their Welcome to Medicare physical exam. It could save their lives!

For More InformationFor more information about Medicare's coverage of the AAA benefit, refer to MLN Matters article MM5235 (2006), Implementation of a One-Time Only Ultrasound Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA), Resulting from a Referral from an Initial Preventive Physical Examination, located at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/MM5235.pdf on the CMS website.

CMS has also developed a variety of educational products and resources to help health care professionals and their staff become familiar with coverage, coding, billing, and reimbursement for all preventive services covered by Medicare.
The MLN Preventive Services Educational Products Web Page provides descriptions and ordering information for all provider specific educational products related to preventive services. The web page is located at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/MLNProducts/35_PreventiveServices.asp on the CMS website.

For information to share with your Medicare patients, visit http://www.medicare.gov/ on the Web.

For more information about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms, please visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/arm/arm_what.html on the Web.

Thank you for helping CMS to increase awareness of abdominal aortic aneurysm disease and the new AAA preventive benefit." End of the newsletter.

Call your personal physician right away to find out if you are in the high risk group of patients to harbor asymptomatic(silent) AAA.

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