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Depression Screening

What it is

Depression is a medical disorder that affects a person's emotional or mental state. It may make you feel very sad, or like you have no energy to do things that used to make you happy. Depression may also include thoughts of ending your life.

The screening is a test that involves a series of simple questions asked by your doctor to see if you are showing signs of depression. The screening is not an official diagnosis, but rather a way for your doctor to see if you are showing symptoms of depression and in need of follow-up diagnostic services and treatment.

Why the screening is important

Among people over the age of 65, 1 in 6 suffers from depression. Many people who suffer from depression are not diagnosed or treated, which can lead to other health problems, even death. Left untreated, older adults are the highest at risk for suicide.

This screening can help you get treatment to improve your quality of life.

How often it is covered

As of October 14, 2011, Medicare covers the cost of one depression screening per year for anyone who has Medicare Part B and gets this service while in a primary care setting, such as a doctor's office.

What you pay

You pay nothing for cost of this service if you have Original Medicare and you see a doctor who “accepts assignment.” Doctors who accept assignment agree to accept the amount that Medicare will pay for a visit or service (called the Medicare-approved amount) as payment in full.

If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, the plan cannot charge you for this service as long as you see an “in-network” provider, meaning a doctor who has an agreement to treat people who belong to the plan. If you use a provider outside your plan's network, it may cost you money.

Learn more about Depression Screening on Medicare.gov.

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