According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease – a progressive brain disorder that causes memory loss and health problems eventually leading to death. As of now, there is no cure for this devastating disease. Unfortunately, many Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease aren’t aware that they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed.
In the past, there was no specific Medicare reimbursement for doctors who took the time to do testing for dementia. However, a new Medicare rule will reimburse primary care physicians who conduct an Alzheimer’s evaluation and offer information about care planning to elderly patients with cognitive impairment. This type of testing could involve testing a patient’s mental status, conducting a comprehensive physical and neurological exam, and doing blood tests and brain imaging.
Additionally, doctors who offer to help Alzheimer’s patients with care planning by providing information on treatments and services can bill Medicare. These types of services, along with an early diagnosis of the disease, can result in fewer hospitalizations, fewer emergency room visits, and better medication management.
Unfortunately, while Medicare will now pay for dementia testing and care planning, it will not help pay for long-term care services for Alzheimer’s patients. For these reasons, it is important to make sure that you have a comprehensive plan in place in the event that you need long-term care in the future.
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