If you’re having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, don’t wait. Help is available on state and local levels. Talk to your doctor or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you need TTY, call 1-800-799-4889.

Understanding Medicare Benefits for Suicide Prevention

Medicare recipients have access to certain mental health services that might be important in preventing suicide. Original Medicare may help cover hospitalization and outpatient mental health services for Medicare recipients at risk of suicide. Additionally, Medicare Part B can allow eligible recipients access to other services that may help recognize and treat signs of depression and suicidal ideation. Medicare benefits may also extend to:

  • Preventative services like an annual wellness visit.
  • A psychiatric evaluation.
  • Individual or group psychotherapy.
  • Tests to diagnose any mental health problems.
  • Medication management.
  • Certain medications that you usually wouldn’t take at home like injections.

Medicare Part B can also cover the cost of outpatient services specifically for suicide prevention, including:

  • Partial hospitalization services. This setup is a very structured treatment option that’s far more intensive than you’d usually get in your doctor’s office. However, you don’t stay overnight during your treatment.
  • Alcohol abuse treatment and screening

Medicare and Inpatient Treatment

With all of these services, they’ll have a lot of specific eligibility rules, combined with out-of-pocket costs. You may have a daily coinsurance and deductibles. Medicare-approved providers must authorize all of your care, and Medicare benefits don’t typically extend to transportation.

Medicare Part A can pay for part or all of your inpatient care at either a psychiatric hospital or at a general hospital. This stay usually has a deductible. For the first 60 days of your visit, you’ll pay a coinsurance expense. Once you hit 60 days, you’ll pay a daily coinsurance. After you stay 90 days, you’ll either pay a higher daily coinsurance, or you’ll have to pay all of your costs.

If you have Original Medicare, a Medicare Supplement plan can help cover the out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare Parts A and B do not, such as deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments.

Medicare and Suicide Prevention Medication

Medicare Part A and B generally won’t cover the cost of prescription medications, but Medicare Part D can help pay for medications prescribed by your doctor to treat anxiety, depression, or other mental illness.

Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage will help cover the cost of medications you take at home. You can get Medicare Part D as a standalone Prescription Drug Plan if you have Original Medicare, or you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes prescription drug coverage.

If you or someone you know is on Medicare and wants or needs treatment for mental health issues, the first step is talking to your doctor. It can be difficult to admit you are struggling, but it’s crucial that you talk to a medical professional so you can get the help you need.

Important Considerations

We mentioned that Medicare would only pay for a psychiatric hospital or inpatient hospital stay for mental health treatment or services. However, if you choose a psychiatric hospital, Medicare Part A usually pays for only 190 days of inpatient services during your lifetime. Medicare won’t cover:

  • A private room if it’s not medically necessary
  • Personal items
  • Private duty nursing
  • A television or phone in your room

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