Although most Medicare recipients are over the age of 65, anyone under the age of 65 who has a qualifying disability or end-stage renal disease can enroll in Medicare after they have received Social Security disability insurance payments for two years. This includes many women who are between the ages of 18 and 44, which are generally considered to be viable childbearing years.
What to Expect at a 12-Week Ultrasound
In many cases, the 12-week ultrasound is the first ultrasound expecting parents will experience, which can often raise as many questions as it answers about the health of the pregnancy and the anticipated due date. Because this ultrasound happens at the end of the first trimester, many developmental milestones have yet to occur—but there can be early signs of any potential issues that need closer consideration, such as a tilted uterus or visual indications of complications that may require further testing to confirm.
While it’s unlikely to know the gender at 12 weeks, it is possible to hear the heartbeat and estimate a due date. Pictures from the ultrasound are also likely to be available. The obstetrician may also combine an ultrasound appointment with going over any necessary lab results that can be ordered during the first trimester.
Depending on the needs of the mother, the ultrasound may be conducted with a transducer that glides over the stomach or one that is inserted vaginally. The latter is often necessary because the pregnancy is not far along enough for the external transducer to produce clear images.
Questions to Ask at a 12-Week Ultrasound
Maintaining a healthy pregnancy can be an overwhelming task, so it’s important to communicate clearly with your health care team and ask questions as often as necessary. The 12-week appointment is an excellent time to get clarification on a number of points:
- Which foods and drinks are unsafe for me to consume?
- Which physical activities should I avoid, reduce or increase?
- How much weight should I expect to gain each month?
- Should cramping, spotting or bleeding be a concern?
- What over-the-counter or prescription medications are safe for me to take?
- Do any pre-existing health conditions impact the health of my pregnancy?
- Are any treatments I receive for pre-existing health conditions a risk for my pregnancy?
Mothers with or without pre-existing or disabling health conditions should make sure their doctor knows about any medications or supplements they take, but it’s especially important for mothers with chronic conditions to make sure their doctor is aware of all treatments they need in case it poses a risk to pregnancy or requires certain modifications.
Medicare Coverage for a 12-Week Ultrasound
Medicare benefits for pregnant recipients can fall under Part A or Part B coverage depending on the setting in which a mother receives her care. Outpatient appointments and diagnostic services are covered by Part B. The 12-week ultrasound is a routine diagnostic service in this situation, but recipients may still need to pay any relevant copays, coinsurance or deductible amounts.
High-risk pregnancies that require more frequent outpatient visits and diagnostic services may still qualify for the same coverage as routine services do, but documentation from the doctor may be required for preauthorization. Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits that enhance the services Medicare benefits offer or reduce costs associated with them.
Additionally, low-income Medicare recipients may be dual-eligibles, which means they qualify for Medicaid services in their states. Recipients should check with Medicare Advantage providers and their state’s local Medicaid office for more information on these opportunities.