Men are more at risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and, of course, prostate cancer. Medicare provides coverage for various preventive tests including screening that help men with early detection – and early detection is key in fighting these diseases.

If you don’t have Medicare or if you haven’t updated your plan, you could be on the hook for hundreds to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.

Open enrollment ends December 7.  Now is the time to act, don’t miss out on Medicare coverage or a chance to update your current plan. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming Medicare changes affecting men’s health.

Medicare-Covered Preventive Services for Cardiovascular Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in men in the United States. If left untreated, cardiovascular disease can lead to many debilitating issues, or even death.

Early disease detection is important – and screening tests for cholesterol, lipid, and triglyceride levels and can be life-saving. However, these cardiovascular disease screenings can be expensive if you’re not covered.

Those with Medicare Part B are 100 percent covered for these screening tests once every five years, if your doctor or health care provider accepts the assignment (in other terms, they accept the payment amount Medicare pays for the service).  It’s important to know that you do not need to show signs of heart disease to qualify for these screenings.

If you think you may be at risk for cardiovascular disease, make sure you’re covered because these screenings could save your life. Each screening includes a blood test that can help to detect conditions that could possibly lead to a heart attack or stroke.

With Medicare, Behavioral Therapy is also covered. This therapy can help to lower a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease. Medicare will cover one visit to the doctor per year to discuss preventive heart disease measures.

Those who have already had a heart attack or stroke, Medicare Part B will cover intensive cardiac rehabilitation programs. Medicare participates will pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount.

Medicare-Covered Preventive Services for Respiratory Disease

Another disease that commonly affects men is respiratory diseases such as lung cancer and COPD. Actually, chronic lower respiratory disease is the fourth leading cause of death in men, approximately 70,000 men die each year from complications, according to Men’s Health.

Some of the major risk factors include smoking, second-hand smoke, and air pollution. Though most of the risks are preventable, early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve a person’s wellbeing.

If you’re between 55 to 77, Medicare Part B offers 100 percent coverage for a lung cancer screening with Low Dose Computed Tomography once per year. Though there are a few conditions that need to be met in order to be eligible.

  1. You aren’t showing any signs and symptoms of lung cancer
  2. You’re a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years
  3. You’ve smoked one pack per day for at least 30 years
  4. Your doctor has ordered you to get screened

For those suffering from COPD, Medicare Part B will cover 20 percent of a comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation program if you have a referral from a doctor.

Medicare Covers Prostate Cancer Screening

Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among men in the United States. Many men with prostate cancer do not experience any symptoms, and without a screening, prostate cancer is often diagnosed too late.

According to the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), it’s recommended that those between the ages of 55 to 69 should get screened after consulting with their doctor. Those younger than 55 or older than 69 should avoid getting routinely screened because the test can do more harm than good.

Medicare Part B fully covers a PSA test once every 12 months for men over 50. Medicare also covers 20 percent of the cost of a yearly digital rectal exam.

If You Think You’re Suffering from Depression, Screening is Covered

Though women are 70 percent more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression, it still affects about six million men in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). One way to determine whether symptoms, such as fatigue, the feeling of helplessness, and irritability are associated with depression, is by getting a confidential depression-screening test. Those with Medicare Part B are 100 percent covered for this test once per year. The only condition is the screening must be done in a primary care facility such as a doctor’s office.

If you’re diagnosed with depression, your doctor might prescribe you an antidepressant medication. Medicare Part A and Part B do not offer coverage for antidepressants; however, if you opt for Medicare Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan antidepressant medications are generally covered.

Don’t Miss the 2018 Medicare Enrollment Deadline

By enrolling in Medicare coverage, you’ll have access to various preventive screening for diseases that affect your health. If you don’t have coverage for these screenings, it could cost your hundreds or thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses. And remember early prevention and diagnoses could save your life.

Right now, is the perfect time to research new coverage options, like Medicare Advantage plans – especially if you’re on an antidepressant medication that isn’t covered.  If you need to apply or make changes to your current Medicare plan, the clock is ticking. You only have until December 7 to enroll. If you miss the deadline, you could end up having to pay a costly penalty.

You have only one chance to make changes to your Medicare enrollment, and it’s right now. Make sure you’re are covered for important screenings and medication that can improve your health and wellbeing.