Treatment for mental health concerns no longer carries the stigma is once did. These days, seeking therapy for anxiety or taking medications for depression are common and accepted forms of self-care, and people of all ages are more open to the idea of engaging in mental health counseling than ever before.
This is great news for seniors who often grew up in an era where discussing mental health or seeking help for mental health concerns was considered taboo. Seniors, as well as Medicare recipients under the age of 65, are able to access mental health services and support without fear of being judged, allowing them to receive care that they may have put off.
Does Medicare Cover Mental Health Services?
Medicare is government-sponsored health coverage that can provide benefits for a range of medically necessary concerns, including mental health challenges. While inpatient care is covered by Medicare Part A, outpatient care is covered by Medicare Part B. Part B is most often the part of the program that gets used to cover Medicare mental health services since many services are provided in clinical settings like doctors’ offices and psychiatrists’ offices.
Medicare Mental Health Benefits Under Part B?
Part B is optional insurance that Medicare recipients can sign up for during the Initial Enrollment Period, a seven-month window surrounding the recipient’s 65th birthday. Most people sign up for Part B when they’re first eligible to avoid paying late enrollment fees. Unless you have other creditable coverage, you may want to consider enrolling in Part B when you qualify.
Outpatient Mental Health Services
In terms of Medicare mental health benefits covered under Part B, Medicare provides outpatient care coverage for a range of services. To begin with, you can receive one depression screening per year as an annual benefit at no cost to you and is available through qualified Medicare-participating healthcare providers who accept assignment.
Individual and Group Counseling
Individual and group counseling is also covered by Medicare Part B in accordance with licensing requirements in your state. Different states refer to mental health care professionals by different titles, and in most cases, therapists or counselors who are Medicare-approved will be able to provide services along with psychiatrists and mental health nurse practitioners.
Medication management is also covered for Medicare recipients who require additional assistance understanding and organizing medications involved in mental health treatment. Medications that need to be administered in a clinical setting are also covered under Medicare Part B; however, medications purchased at pharmacies for self-administration will be considered for coverage under Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit. Medications administered while admitted to a hospital or skilled nursing facility will be considered under Medicare Part A.
Evaluations and Diagnostic Testing
Medicare mental health services under Part B also include psychiatric evaluations and diagnostic testing. Tests may be administered in a clinical setting or doctor’s office, but if they are administered while admitted to a hospital, including a psychiatric hospital, Medicare Part A would supply coverage instead.
As stated previously, one depression screening is available annually through Medicare Part B, but Medicare recipients who carry Part B also receive one annual wellness visit per year at no cost as well. During this time, you may be able to discuss mental health concerns with your doctor to begin the process of seeking a full evaluation.