We all love to get something for free. Here’s a list of valuable health care services for you and your family. Every one of them can make you healthier now and for years to come. And, because they can help prevent illness and chronic conditions, or keep them from getting worse, these preventive services are free.
Almost half of American adults have at least one chronic illness, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma or others. About 25 percent of patients with a chronic condition has one or more limitations in their regular daily activities. Preventive care saves lives and can prevent costly long-term disability.
The health screenings listed below have proven to reduce or eliminate future health care spending. It’s much less expensive to keep someone healthy than to treat them once they are sick. For example, every dollar spent on childhood immunizations saves over $18 in future health care costs. Every dollar invested in school-age tobacco prevention programs saves almost $20 in future medical costs.
If you have private health insurance, you are guaranteed access to free preventive services without having to pay a co-payment or co-insurance amount. This is true even if you have not met your yearly deductible.
Free preventive services are a requirement of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA, also called Obamacare). Free health screenings are available if you have health insurance from your job, if you purchased private insurance on healthcare.gov, or are eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or Arkansas Works (Medicaid expansion in Arkansas).
To get these valuable screenings at no cost to you:
- Your insurance must meet the requirements of the ACA.
- Services must be provided by a doctor or other provider in your plan’s network.
- Services must be provided as part of a preventive visit. For example, if you tell your doctor you have diabetes symptoms and want to be checked, there will be a charge for that testing. The screening will be coded as diagnostic and you/your insurance will be charged a fee. But, if you have a family history of diabetes that places you at high risk of diabetes, your doctor will provide regular diabetes screening tests as a preventive service. Or, if you are also being seen for other problems during a preventive visit, the provider can charge for the non-preventive services and you will most likely be billed for that visit.
Be sure to ask your doctor about the correct designation – preventive versus diagnostic – before accepting a screening.
Free services for adults:
For more detail on any service or to determine if it is something you need or might help you, click on the words in blue.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm one-time screening for men of specified ages who have ever smoked
- Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
- Aspirin use to prevent heart disease and colorectal cancer for adults 50 to 59 years with a high heart-disease risk
- Blood pressure screening
- Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk
- Colorectal cancer screening for adults 50 to 75
- Depression screening
- Diabetes (Type 2) screeningfor adults 40 to 70 years who are overweight
- Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
- Falls prevention(using exercise or physical therapy and vitamin D supplements) for adults 65 years and over
- Hepatitis B screening for people at high risk
- Hepatitis C screening for adults at increased risk, and one time for everyone born between 1945-1965
- HIV screening for everyone ages 15 to 65, and other ages at increased risk
- Immunization vaccines, include: Diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, herpes zoster, human papillomavirus (HPV), influenza (flu), measles, meningitis, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, rubella, tetanus, varicella (chickenpox)
- Lung cancer screening for adults 55-80 at high risk for lung cancer (heavy smokers and those who have quit in the past 15 years)
- Obesity screening and counseling
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling for adults at higher risk
- Statin preventive medication for adults 40 to 75 at high risk of high cholesterol
- Syphilis screening for adults at higher risk
- Tobacco use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users
- Tuberculosis screening for certain high-risk adults without symptoms
Free services for adult women:
- Breast cancer genetic test counseling (BRCA) for women at higher risk
- Breast cancer mammography screenings every one to two years for women over 40
- Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk
- Cervical cancer screening, including a Pap test every three years for women ages 21-65, or HPV DNA test with Pap test every five years for women ages 30-65
- Chlamydia infection screening for younger women and other women at higher risk
- Diabetes screening for nonpregnant women with a history of gestational diabetes but without a type 2 diabetes diagnosis
- Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
- Gonorrhea screening for all women at higher risk
- HIV screening and counseling for sexually active women
- Osteoporosis screening for women over age 60, depending on risk factors
- Rh incompatibility screening follow-up testing for women at higher risk
- Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually active women
- Syphilis screening for women at increased risk
- Tobacco use screening and interventions
- Urinary incontinence screening
- Well-woman visits to get recommended services for women under age 65
Free services for pregnant women or who may become pregnant:
- Anemia screening on a routine basis
- Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling; access to breastfeeding supplies
- Contraception methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling, as prescribed by a health care provider for women with reproductive capacity (not including abortifacient drugs). Does not apply if the health plan is sponsored by exempt “religious employers.” Learn more about contraceptive coverage.
- Folic acid supplements for women who may become pregnant
- Gestational diabetes screening for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant and those at high risk of gestational diabetes
- Preeclampsia prevention and screening for pregnant women with high blood pressure
- Rh incompatibility screening for all pregnant women and follow-up testing for women at higher risk
- Urinary tract or other infection screening
- Services numbered 11, 29, 34, and 35 above
Free services for children:
- Alcohol, tobacco, and drug use assessments for adolescents
- Autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months
- Behavioral assessments for children ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years
- Bilirubin concentration screening for newborns
- Blood pressure screening for children ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years
- Blood screening for newborns
- Cervical dysplasia screening or sexually active females
- Depression screening for adolescents begins routinely at age 12
- Developmental screening for children under age 3
- Dyslipidemia screening for all children once between 9 and 11 years and once between 17 and 21 years, and for children at higher risk of lipid disorders ages: 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years
- Fluoride chemoprevention supplements for children without fluoride in their water source
- Fluoride varnish for all infants and children as soon as teeth are present
- Gonorrhea preventive medication for all newborns’ eyes
- Hearing screening for all newborns; and for children once between 11 and 14 years, once between 15 and 17 years, and once between 18 and 21 years
- Height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) measurements for children ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years
- Hematocrit or hemoglobin screening
- Hemoglobinopathies or sickle cell screening for newborns
- Hepatitis B screening for adolescents at high risk
- HIV screening for adolescents at higher risk
- Hypothyroidism screening for newborns
- Immunization vaccines for children from birth to age 18, including Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, haemophilus influenza type b, and regular flu shot, hepatitis A and B, HPV, measles, meningitis, pneumonia, polio, rotavirus, varicella,
- Iron supplements for infants 6-12 months at risk for anemia
- Lead screening for children at risk of exposure
- Maternal depression screening for mothers of infants at 1, 2, 4, and 6-month visits
- Medical history for all children throughout development ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years
- Obesity screening and counseling
- Oral health risk assessment for young children ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years
- Phenylketonuria (PKU) screening for newborns
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling and screening for adolescents at higher risk
- Tuberculin testing for children at higher risk of tuberculosis ages: 0 to 11 months, 1 to 4 years, 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years
- Vision screening for all children
Click here to get more information about Medicaid and CHIP health coverage for children.
Free Medicare services
Medicare has long been an advocate of preventive services for Americans age 65 or older. Medicare will provide the following preventive services at no cost to people with Original Medicare if your provider accepts Medicare assignment. If you have Medicare Advantage (MA), check with your insurance company about free services and network restrictions. Some MA plans offer additional free services.
Here are Medicare’s preventive services:
- Annual wellness visit with your doctor
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
- Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
- Bone mass (bone density) measurement
- Breast cancer screening (mammograms)
- Cardiovascular disease screening and behavioral therapy
- Cervical and vaginal cancer screening (Pap tests)
- Colorectal cancer screening
- Depression screening
- Diabetes screening
- Diabetes self-management training
- Glaucoma test
- Hepatitis C screening
- HIV screening
- Lung cancer screening
- Nutrition therapy services
- Prostate cancer screening
- Sexually-transmitted infection screening and counseling
- Shots for flu, pneumonia, Hepatitis B
- Tobacco use cessation counseling
- Weight loss screening and counseling
- “Welcome to Medicare” is a one-time preventive visit when you are first eligible for Medicare
Be sure your doctor codes these services as preventive or you could have to pay additional costs. If you have additional tests or services (not included in the above list) during your preventive services visit, you may have a co-pay and your Part B Medicare deductible may apply.
If you or your family have not taken advantage of these free screenings or shots, contact your doctor for an appointment. The service is free, but the value to your health is priceless.
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