Minding Your Mental Health: Does Medicare Cover Therapy?

Depression is not a normal part of aging. However, older adults are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety. If an individual has other illnesses or limited functions, the risk for depression increases.

Does Medicare cover therapy? Original Medicare does provide some benefits to diagnose depression and monitor an individual’s mental health.

But first, how do you know if what you’re feeling is depression? It can easily be written off as just a case of “the blues.” How do you know when it’s something more?

depressed woman

Depression: Signs and Symptoms

Depression is not something that lasts a day or two. It can last for weeks or months at a time.

Other than a strong feeling of sadness, individuals can experience:

  • Appetite loss or overeating
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Persistent, general body aches and pains that do not diminish with other treatment
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Memory loss
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities

Medicare Part B: Understanding Your Benefits

Medicare beneficiaries are eligible to receive some help with the cost of mental health services through Part B of Original Medicare.

Upon enrollment in Medicare, an individual receives a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit. This is a one-time occurrence. During this visit, providers discuss the individual’s risk factors for depression.

After the initial welcome visit, individuals are eligible for one depression screening each year and an annual “Wellness” visit. Risk factors and any current symptoms can be discussed with a primary care physician at these visits.

Individuals are also eligible for psychiatric evaluation, diagnostics tests, partial hospitalization, injectable medications, and medication management.

In some states, individual and group therapy is also provided, and family counseling is offered to help the Medicare beneficiary with their treatment.

If alcohol and drug use are involved with the depressive episode, Medicare Part B covers outpatient mental health services to treat the addiction.

clinical psychologist speaking with patient

Your Cost

Medicare Part B does not cover 100% of the cost for most of these services.

Medicare will pay the entire cost for the initial “Welcome to Medicare” visit, the annual “Wellness” visits, and the yearly depression screenings, assuming your provider accepts Medicare assignment.

generations of family visiting together

For any other mental health services that are part of Medicare benefits, individuals will pay 20% of the cost for these services and the Part B deductible.

Mental health has not always been widely accepted as an integral part of overall health. Thankfully, more resources and help are available to those who need them. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, get help. Our golden years are not meant to be spent in darkness.

For more information on mental health, visit mentalhealth.org.

Dani is a licensed health and life insurance advisor. She is also the creator of everything you see on our social media accounts and runs Blaze Creative, a content-writing and copywriting agency designed specifically for Medicare brokers.

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