Staying up-to-date in your health is paramount, especially as you age. Most adults and seniors will put this off. However, it is more important now than ever, as your immune system weakens as you get older. With a weakened immune system, you are more susceptible to catch an illness or infection.
Vaccines are products invented to build your bodies immunity from various diseases or illnesses. They can be administered by injections, taken orally, or even by aerosol spray.
Medicare Part D and Vaccines
Once you start getting vaccinated regularly, it is in your best interest to purchase a Medicare Part D coverage plan. These plans are created solely to cover expensive prescription drugs and vaccinations. It works with your current Medicare plan to provide additional coverage.
Medicare Part D is optional, not a requirement. Not everybody opts to purchase this plan. However, prescription drugs and vaccines alike, may end up resulting in a costly healthcare bill if uncovered.
It is also important to remember, a Medicare drug plan may affect your Medicare Advantage Plan. Once you join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), you will be removed from your Medicare Advantage plan. After being disenrolled, you will be placed back on Original Medicare.
What Vaccines are Covered by Medicare Part D
The Influenza Vaccine
In just one year alone, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that about 60% of hospitalizations for seniors, were caused by flu-related illnesses.
Influenza, also known as ‘the flu’, is a respiratory illness that is considered extremely contagious. The flu can be diagnosed by experiencing several different symptoms. These symptoms include: elevated fevers, body aches, coughing, a runny nose, and fatigue.
For adults over the age of 65, the flu should be taken very seriously. As you age, influenza could result in an extended hospital stay, or death.
Shots, or vaccinations, are usually covered by your Medicare Part B plan. The coverage is usually capped by one shot per flu season. The first shot is covered completely if the physician accepts Medicare assignment.
The Shingles Vaccine
Did you know, according to the CDC, around 500,000 seniors, 60 years of age and older, get the shingles disease each year?
The Shingles, also called herpes zoster, can be characterized by a painful rash on the side of the face or body. This illness is usually caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.
In some cases, although rare, shingles may lead to pneumonia, problems hearing, loss of sight (blindness), inflammation to the brain, or death.
The shingles vaccination is not covered by Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B. However, this shot is typically covered by a Medicare Part D plan.
Diphtheria and Tetanus
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection. Symptoms of this disease include: weakness, sore throat, elevated temperatures, and swollen glands found in the neck. Diphtheria can cause heart damage, kidney damage, and even nerve damage.
Tetanus, like Diphtheria, is a bacterial infection. Tetanus can cause lockjaw, muscle spasms, seizures, blood pressure changes, and increased heart rate. If you have Tetanus, it may cause breathing difficulties. If breathing becomes difficult, it can lead to death.
Diphtheria and Tetanus are treated by the Tdap vaccine. Usually Medicare Part D plans cover shots needed to prevent illness, like the Tdap does.
Getting Vaccinated for Pertussis
Also known as ‘whooping cough’, Pertussis is treatable by vaccination. While most common in young children, whooping cough can also cause adults to cough violently and rapidly. It received its name from the whooping sound made with a force inhale. In some cases, this brutal cough can cause vomiting, along with deep exhaustion.
Whooping cough, or Pertussis, is caused by bacteria, like Diphtheria and Tetanus. Pertussis can also be treated by the Tdap vaccine.
Tdap is covered by Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.
Vaccines for Pneumonia
As far as coverage for Pneumonia, Medicare Part B will usually cover the vaccine used to prevent pneumonia. Doctors will likely administer two different shots, each taken one year apart.
If your physician accepts Medicare assignment, you usually will not have to pay for pneumococcal vaccines.
How do I Enroll in Medicare Part D?
If you are in need of one or more of these vaccines, your best bet is to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. Luckily, a Part D Prescription Drug Plan is available to anyone who is currently receiving Medicare benefits. Enrolling in Medicare Part D is a pretty simple process.
First, you should know, Medicare Part D coverage can be purchased two different ways.
- Through a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug plan
- Through a Medicare Advantage plan that provides prescription drug coverage.
Both of these options are available to purchase from private, Medicare-approved insurance companies.
With a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan, you will still be able to keep your Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).
Medicare Advantage plan, as an alternative, is another way to receive Part A and Part B benefits. However, you will still need to continue to pay a Part B premium, in addition to any other premium that may come from your selected plan.
It is suggested that you sign up for Medicare Part D when it is first available to you, or when you are first eligible. If you choose not to enroll when you are eligible, you may incur some additional fees from the late enrollment penalty.
This is a lot of information to take in, and could get a bit worrisome. However, staying on top of your vaccinations is key in this situation. Stressing over possibly getting sick as you age can bring chaos to your mind. It is time to put that stress to ease, and enjoy retirement.
There’s a great tool that we use daily called the Part D plan finder, it will search all plans in your area to find the best rates.