Even if you make the right choices when it comes to diet and exercise, the fact remains that bone density can change as people age. This is especially true among women who have gone through menopause. Medical conditions and diseases like cancer and associated treatments can also have a detrimental effect on bone health. While the standard x-ray is still a useful tool in examining bone health and achieving a diagnosis after injury, advanced medical technology, like dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, can provide detailed diagnostic results for more targeted treatment.
What is Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry?
Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA, is a scanning technology that utilizes two different beams of energy to examine bone density. This is achieved by filtering out soft tissue during imaging, allowing for the bones to absorb the energy emitted by the beams at different levels to provide in-depth information regarding bone mineral density. This, in turn, offers medical providers the chance to see where damage has been done due to conditions like osteoporosis, but a DEXA scan can also show trouble spots where healing is or is not taking place after a fracture or break. Through the use of a DEXA scan, your treatment can be tailored to address specific issues that are affecting bone mineral density at varying levels of severity.
Does Medicare Cover DEXA Scans?
In most cases, Medicare insurance does cover DEXA scans under Part B. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) provides benefits for outpatient procedures that are deemed medically necessary for ongoing treatment of illness. A DEXA scan will need to be ordered by your doctor in order to be covered, and although rare, some conditions may require a patient and his or her physician to work through other treatment options prior to undergoing a DEXA scan.
If this is the case and your doctor feels that a DEXA scan needs to be the next line of treatment, you should be able to file for an exemption to skip this requirement. To learn more about this process, you will need to contact your plan for the specific requirements addressing your unique situation and coverage options.
Medicare Part A and DEXA Scans in a Skilled Nursing Facility
In addition to receiving a DEXA scan under Medicare Part B, you may also be able to receive coverage through Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) if a DEXA scan is performed during a required stay at a certified skilled nursing facility. This is often the case when a Medicare recipient is undergoing rehabilitation after an injury and is in need of comprehensive care during a temporary stay at a hospital or designated clinic. This may also be the case when a Medicare recipient needs to recuperate after an operation subsequent to cancer treatment and bone health has been negatively affected by the disease or treatment.
Medicare Part D Can Cover Some Prescriptions
After a DEXA scan, you may also need to take medications to improve bone and overall health. When this is the case, you may be able to complement your treatment with prescription drugs that are covered under Medicare Part D. Keep in mind that Medicare Part D does not cover all prescription medications, so prior to beginning a course of treatment, review your plan’s formulary, or list of covered drugs, to discover details about your medication coverage options. Also, Medicare Part D only covers medications that are dispensed at retail pharmacy locations to be taken at home, so if you need an injection or any other type of non-traditional method of ingestion, you may need to rely on Medicare Part B to receive treatment in a clinical setting.