Medicare News and Healthcare Updates

What Does Medicare Cover? 10 Expenses You May Not Have Expected

by Alli Thomas

Feb 24, 2023

If you’re a retiree (or approaching retirement), one of the most important decisions you need to make is the type of Medicare coverage you’ll have.

Many people know that Part A is for hospital stays and other inpatient care, Part B is for medical services, and Part D is Medicare’s prescription drug plan. But what about details when it comes to specific expenses? You may be surprised at just how much Medicare covers, including items you wouldn’t have expected coverage for or were not covered by private insurance you had while working.

Medical Expenses You May Not Have Expected Medicare Coverage For

1. Walk-in tubs

If deemed medically necessary by your physician, walk-in tubs are covered by Medicare. However, you’ll have to pay for it up front, and then submit your expenses to Medicare for reimbursement.

2. Dermatology services and treatments

Medicare covers some of the most common skin conditions. These include acne; rosacea; psoriasis; seborrheic dermatitis; and skin tag or cancerous mole removal (if medically necessary).

3. Custom shoes for diabetics

If a podiatrist or other healthcare provider prescribes diabetic footwear, Medicare will cover it.

4. Alcohol and smoking cessation counseling 

If you’re trying to quit smoking, Medicare will cover up to eight counseling sessions per calendar year–but won’t cover over-the-counter aids (such as nicotine lozenges or patches). Likewise, if you’re struggling with alcohol use, Medicare covers one alcohol abuse screening and four counseling sessions per year.

5. Weight-loss counseling

If your BMI is 30 or higher, Medicare will pay for counseling sessions to help you lose weight.

6. Vaccines

As a Medicare recipient, you can get your annual flu shot for free. You’ll also be covered for two pneumococcal vaccines and the COVID-19 vaccines and booster shot. You may also qualify for a free Hepatitis A vaccine if you have certain health conditions.

7. Annual health screenings

Coverage includes screenings for depression, HIV, diabetes, Hepatitis C, abdominal aortic aneurysm, hearing, heart disease, cancer, and sexually transmitted infections.

8. Bone density scans

If you meet certain qualifications, Medicare will cover a bone density test every two years.

9. Nutritional counseling

If you have diabetes or kidney disease (or have had a kidney transplant in the past three years), Medicare will cover a variety of nutritional counseling and support services.

10. Eye exams

Medicare will cover eye exams if you have macular degeneration, ocular problems caused by diabetes, or current ocular problems.

The above is just a fraction of the coverage details within Medicare and if you have complex healthcare needs, it’s important to understand the fine print so that you’re not left holding the bill.

Review Your Medicare Plans Annually

Because healthcare needs can change fast for retirees, it’s important to review your coverage every year.

You may benefit from switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or from changing your Medicare Advantage plan to a new one. However, you can only make some of these changes during specific Open Enrollment periods, so you’ll want to stay on top of your healthcare needs and plan ahead to avoid missing these windows.


You may benefit from switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or from changing your Medicare Advantage plan to a new one. However, you can only make some of these changes during specific Open Enrollment periods, so you’ll want to stay on top of your healthcare needs and plan ahead to avoid missing these windows. 

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Alli Thomas

Alli Thomas has worked in the financial services industry for nearly 20 years, with a focus on retirement-related investing. She began her career as a FINRA-licensed participant-services call-center associate at Vanguard, and then moved to Principal Financial Group, where she worked closely with employers, assisting with retirement plan set-up and design, selecting appropriate plan investment offerings, and maximizing employee participation through targeted education campaigns and enrollment meetings. Alli has also worked as a qualified 401(k) administrator and registered investment advisor for several small investment firms. She now writes about all things investment- and finance-related, leveraging her extensive experience and passion for retirement planning to help investors make well-informed financial decisions.

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