Don't Miss These 13 Totally Free Things You Get With Medicare

As a Medicare recipient, you gain access to these 13 essential services at no additional cost.

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Updated June 6, 2024
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Medicare is the government program that helps pay your bills during retirement. But it also offers a slew of free services that come as a pleasant surprise to many.

Here are 13 freebies included with Original Medicare plans that can help you keep more cash in your pocket and eliminate some money stress

Note that these perks may not apply to those who have Medicare Advantage coverage.

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A preventative welcome visit

Drazen/Adobe couple planning their health insurance

Within 12 months of signing up for Medicare, reach out to your doctor to schedule a preliminary “welcome to Medicare” visit. 

Unlike an annual checkup, your welcome visit is a one-time appointment where you and your primary care provider go over your medical history in depth.

The appointment includes a few basic screenings, such as a vision test. Your doctor will also create a preventative care plan, which lays out which screenings and vaccines you should get as you enter your golden years.

Although you will not pay a deductible for this visit, you might be responsible for a coinsurance. In addition, your deductible might apply if the doctor performs some types of additional tests.

Yearly wellness visits

insta_photos/Adobe senior woman consulting young male doctor

While Medicare doesn’t cover annual checkups (often called physicals), it does cover an annual wellness visit. During the appointment, you’ll complete a risk assessment that lays out conditions you could develop based on your lifestyle, family history, and other factors.

Your doctor will use the results of the assessment to update the care plan created during your one-time welcome visit. Note that you can’t schedule a free annual wellness visit within the first 12 months of signing up for Medicare Part B.

Seasonal vaccines

Jelena Stanojkovic/Adobe proud mature woman smile after vaccination with bandage on arm

Medicare Part B covers a variety of seasonal vaccines that those age 65 and older should receive annually, including a yearly flu shot and COVID-19 booster.

Taking advantage of these free vaccines can be helpful for seniors, who are at a greater risk of experiencing complications, hospitalizations, and death related to some illnesses.

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Other recommended vaccines

guerrieroale/Adobe doctor making a vaccination

Medicare Part D recently expanded to fully cover the cost of vaccines for adults that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends. Vaccines for shingles, tetanus-diphtheria-whooping cough, and more are included.

Patients who have Medicare Part D and were charged an administration fee when receiving necessary vaccines this year can file a claim to get reimbursed.

Opioid use disorder treatment

Prostock-studio/Adobe patient talking to doctor during appointment

Medicare covers recovery treatments for opioid use disorder without requiring you to pay a copay if you receive your through an opioid treatment program (OTP) enrolled in Medicare.

Your treatment plan might include medication, therapy, overdose training, ongoing assessments, and drug tests. However, note that your Medicare Part B deductible does apply to any medications or other supplies you receive as part of your treatment plan.

Yearly screenings for depression

Rido/Adobe caregiver assists senior woman

Medicare Part B recipients can get a free depression screening at their primary care provider’s office once a year.

During a depression screening, you might be asked questions about changes in your sleeping habits, energy levels, and eating habits, plus questions about any feelings of hopelessness or guilt.

Yearly mammograms for women over 40

Malik E/ happy doctor and patient using tablet

If you have Medicare and are a woman over age 40, you should be eligible for a free annual mammogram.

Medicare fully covers a basic yearly screening. Additional mammograms that are deemed medically necessary might also be covered, but you are likely to pay some of the cost.

Yearly prostate cancer screenings for men over 50

bernardbodo/Adobe doctor examining a senior patient

If you’re a man with Medicare Part B, you’ll qualify for yearly prostate-specific antigen (PSA) lab screenings and a digital rectal exam starting the day after your 50th birthday,

Colonoscopy screenings every 2 or 10 years

Prostock-studio/Adobe young female doctor holding clipboard and pen explaining health insurance policies to senior disabled man in wheelchair

If you are at high risk for colon cancer, Medicare will cover the full cost of a basic screening colonoscopy once every two years.

Medicare will cover the screening in full for those not at high risk once every 10 years. Medicare also covers one colonoscopy four years after a flexible sigmoidoscopy.

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Twice-yearly diabetes screenings

pixs4u/Adobe senior doctor and elderly patient happiness together

If your primary care provider thinks you could develop diabetes and recommends you for screening, Medicare will cover the cost of up to two blood glucose lab tests per year.

You’re also eligible for up to two free screenings if you’re older than 65, overweight, and have either a personal or family history of diabetes (including gestational diabetes).

Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP)

Beaunitta Van Wyk/ caregiver holding hand of patient

If you don’t have diabetes or end-stage renal disease, do have a BMI over a certain limit (usually either 23 or 25), and haven’t yet gone through a Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, Medicare will typically cover the full costs of a year-long preventative course.

The free program spans 12 months and has two distinct phases. First, you’ll attend six months of weekly group meetings, where you’ll learn strategies for lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Second, you’ll qualify for monthly check-ins over the next six months to help you meet health goals and maintain healthy habits.

Screenings for alcohol misuse

pikselstock/Adobe friendly nurse supporting an elderly lady

Every year, Medicare recipients qualify for a free alcohol misuse screening at their primary care provider’s office.

If your primary care physician flags you for potentially misusing alcohol — which is different from receiving a concrete alcohol dependency diagnosis — you could qualify for up to four short counseling sessions per year to discuss a path forward.

Up to 8 smoking-cessation counseling sessions

yavdat/Adobe using laptop for websurfing

If you want to stop smoking or using tobacco and your doctor recommends that you try to quit, Medicare will cover the full cost for as many as eight smoking-cessation counseling visits over the course of 12 months.

Bottom line adult taking pills medicine concept

Dealing with new health insurance in retirement requires a bit of a learning curve. But once you’ve figured out how Medicare works, you can start taking advantage of the many free services the program provides to stretch your Social Security income.

Call your primary care provider’s office as soon as you’ve signed up for Medicare and schedule your one-time welcome visit to start taking advantage of these free services.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.