If you’re a woman, having a regular pap smear is an important part of protecting your overall health. Pap smears can detect potentially serious medical conditions, providing medical professionals with additional options for treatment when a problem is found early. Although there are differences in exam intervals with age, all women can benefit from working with a gynecologist to protect their reproductive health.

Senior women are encouraged to have a regular pap smear according to the instructions of their doctors or specialists. This is even more important if you have a family history of reproductive health concerns or if you have certain other risk factors for developing reproductive health problems. These can include any history of cancer, cervical or otherwise, as well as any history of sexually transmitted diseases, active or inactive.

Does Medicare Cover Pap Smears?
In most cases, Medicare recipients are able to receive coverage for pap smears and related reproductive health exams and testing through Medicare Part B.  Part B (medical insurance) offers cost savings on medically necessary outpatient procedures, medical supplies, and preventive care.

If a pap smear is completed during a hospital stay or while being temporarily cared for in a skilled nursing facility, Medicare Part A coverage may apply. Prescriptions that are ordered to treat a condition found as the result of a pap smear may be covered by Medicare Part D as long as the medications are able to be purchased from a retail pharmacy. If medications are to be administered in an office or clinic, like in the case of some cervical cancer treatments, Medicare Part B may help cover the costs of these expenses.

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Pap Smears?
Original Medicare provides coverage for pap smears at 100% in almost all cases, and Medicare Advantage plans are required to include all of he Part A and Part B benefits of Original Medicare. Many Medicare Advantage enrollees may be able to receive additional reproductive health benefits. These could include additional screenings using genetic markers as well as imaging screening procedures that may not be included in Original Medicare coverage. Likewise, a Medicare Advantage plan may help you save on costs associated with treatment of various reproductive health concerns.

Are Pap Smear Exams Different for Older Women?
A pap smear that is completed for an older woman is virtually the same as one done for a younger woman; however, there are a few differences. Women who have gone through menopause will often not need to consider pregnancy as a contributing factor to reproductive health, but this does not change the importance of having a pap smear on a regular basis. Older women are just as susceptible to certain diseases affecting the female reproductive system as younger women and may even be at a greater risk of developing certain cancers due to age, environmental factors, sexual activity and any family history of cancer.  Cervical cancer due to some viruses can cause a spread of the disease, and cancer found in areas like the breast can also spread.

Vaccination is Important in Defending Against Disease
If a problem is detected after a pap smear, modern treatment options vary because not all reproductive health concerns are the same. In the case of cervical cancer, identifying the source of the disease is a crucial element in treatment. The human papillomavirus, while mostly innocuous on its own, can lead to the development of cervical cancer. This is why it may be important for women to get vaccinated against such diseases under a physician’s direction to guard against the potential for future problems. Not all women are able to be vaccinated, so if you have questions regarding your status, contact your physician or gynecologist for clarification.

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