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September 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Medicare and Medicaid Services
by Greg Dill
Regional Administrator
Medicare District 9
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At Risk for Hepatitis? Medicare Can Help

Greg Dill
Greg Dill

Did you know viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, causes more than 1 million deaths per year worldwide? That’s about the same number of deaths caused by tuberculosis and HIV combined. Fortunately, Medicare can help protect you from Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, the most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States.

Hepatitis is contagious. The Hepatitis B virus, for example, spreads through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also get infected by coming in contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days.

Hepatitis B can range from being a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term illness (chronic) that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

Medicare Part B covers Hepatitis B shots, which usually are given as a series of 3 shots over a 6month period. You need all 3 shots for complete protection.

Medicare covers these shots for people at medium or high risk for Hepatitis B. Risk factors include hemophilia, end-stage renal disease, diabetes, if you live with someone who has Hepatitis B, or if you’re a health care worker and have frequent contact with blood or body fluids. Check with your doctor to see if you’re at medium or high risk for Hepatitis B.

You pay nothing for Hepatitis B shots if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare payment.

Medicare also covers a onetime Hepatitis C screening test if your primary care doctor or practitioner orders it and you meet one of these conditions:

Medicare also covers yearly repeat screenings for certain people at high risk.

Medicare will only cover Hepatitis C screening tests if they’re ordered by a primary care doctor or other primary care provider. You pay nothing for the screening test if the doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare payment.

Hepatitis shots and screening are among the many preventive health services that Medicare helps pay for. These screenings and tests help detect preventable and chronic diseases early, in their most treatable stages.

Here are some other preventive health measures Medicare covers:

You pay nothing for most Medicare covered preventive services if you get the services from a doctor or other qualified health care provider who accepts Medicare payment.

However, for some preventive services, you may have to pay a deductible, coinsurance, or both. These costs may also apply if you get a preventive service in the same visit as a non-preventive service.

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).