Can Medicare Help with Stroke Recovery Services and Costs?

Medicare Stroke Prevention

If you're on Medicare and have suffered from a stroke, you may be able to have some – or even all – or your rehab services covered.

According to the Internet Stroke Center (1), strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. In fact, more than 140,000 people die each year just in the United States alone due to suffering from a stroke.

In addition, stroke is also the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, and this condition is either directly or indirectly responsible for lost income, as well as added medical and / or rehab costs.
Contrary to popular belief, strokes do not just happen to those who are in the older age brackets. Based on the statistics, roughly one quarter of all strokes occur in people who are under the age of 65.

If you have suffered from a stroke, it is important to keep in mind that there are various risk factors that could increase your odds of having another one. For instance, having diabetes, high cholesterol, and / or high blood pressure are at the top of the list of stroke risk factors.

In addition, there are other criteria that are more in your control that could also be cause for a stroke, such as having unhealthy eating habits, smoking, and / or excessive drinking of alcohol. With that in mind, taking on a more healthy lifestyle could reduce the chance of having another stroke, and in turn, add more years to your life.

The Physical and Financial Impact of a Stroke

Whether you have suffered from one – or more – strokes in the past, there are a number of health and mobility-related effects that could result from having this condition – and many of these results could impact your (and your loved ones’) every day life. For example, just some of the health issues that could come about due to suffering a stroke may include:

  • Vision impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Paralysis (full or partial)
  • Problems with balance
  • Difficulty with walking
  • Impaired speech

If you have suffered from a stroke, and you are also enrolled in Medicare for your health care coverage, you may be able to have some – or even all – or your rehab services covered. For instance, Medicare will typically cover both medical and rehabilitation services while you are either in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility. In addition, Medicare may also help with paying for medically-necessary outpatient and occupational therapy, if it is needed as a result of a stroke.

You may also get – typically at no out-of-pocket cost to you through Medicare – various preventive services that could help you to key in on a variety of stroke risk factors. For instance, Medicare will generally cover cardiovascular disease screening – which includes a blood test that checks your cholesterol levels.

Medicare may also cover other items and services that could help to prevent you from having a (or another) stroke in the future. These include the following:

  • Nutrition therapy services
  • Diabetes screening and self-management training (you may be eligible for two diabetes screenings each year through Medicare Part B. These lab tests are covered if you have various risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure / hypertension, a history of high blood sugar / glucose, and / or a history of abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels)
  • Obesity screening and counseling (Medicare may cover behavioral counseling sessions that can help you with losing weight – provided that you obtain this type of care in a primary care setting, such as a doctor’s office, and that it is also coordinated with your other health care, as well as a personalized prevention plan) (5)
    Cardiovascular disease behavioral therapy (here your doctor may discuss healthy eating habits, as well as check your blood pressure to determine whether you may be at risk)
  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling (Medicare Part B will typically cover this service one time per year – and you may get up to four face-to-face counseling sessions each year, if your primary care provider determines that you are misusing alcohol and that the sessions are conducted by a qualified provider in a primary care setting such as a doctor’s office).
  • Smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling (which can help you to quit smoking and / or from using tobacco products in the future).

Where to Find More Information on Medicare’s Stroke Related Benefits

Suffering from a stroke can be scary. However, if you are able to access ample resources that can assist you with rehab, as well as to help with preventing another episode, it can literally be life changing. This is particularly the case if you can access such services at little or no out-of-pocket cost to you.

If you or a loved one (who is also a Medicare enrollee) may be at risk for having a stroke – or even if you just want to find out more information about Medicare’s stroke-related benefits – you can go directly to Medicare’s website by visiting www.Medicare.gov. You can also contact an insurance professional who specializes in Medicare health care plans. Doing so can help you to get your questions answered quickly and thoroughly.

Sources:

The Internet Stroke Center. Stroke Statistics. U.S. Statistics. http://www.strokecenter.org/patients/about-stroke/stroke-statistics/
Your Medicare Coverage. Is my test, item, or service covered? Obesity screening & counseling. Medicare.gov. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/diabetes-screenings.html
Your Medicare Coverage. Is my test, item, or service covered? Obesity screening & counseling. Medicare.gov. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/obesity-screening-and-counseling.html
Your Medicare Coverage. Is my test, item, or service covered? Alcohol misuse screening & counseling. Medicare.gov. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/alcohol-counseling.html