• Diabetes, Medicare, and You

    Hilliard, OH nutritionist and fitness specialist jason yun


    Nearly a quarter of all American seniors have diabetes. Considering that this blood sugar disorder is among the leading causes of death worldwide, treating it is crucial to living a long and healthy life. Fortunately, Medicare offers many benefits to help diagnose, treat, and manage diabetes, but may not provide coverage for its side effects. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, here are some things that you should know.


    Medicare Covers Testing and Supplies

    Medicare covers a host of valuable diabetic screening services as well as supplies, such as a blood sugar monitor and test strips. Original Medicare further covers two podiatric exams and one glaucoma test per year. If you develop severe foot problems due to diabetes, Medicare also covers inserts and therapeutic shoes. However, very few of these services are covered in full, and the vast majority require that you meet your deductible. There is also a 20 percent copayment required for many of the services and supplies.


    Diabetes May Trigger Other Health Issues

    Diabetes is very rarely a standalone disease. The vast majority of seniors with diabetes also have co-occurring conditions that can range from neuropathy to kidney failure. Even more alarming is that about half of all diabetics have sleep apnea, which can be fatal if left untreated. While Medicare does cover treatment for many of these conditions, you will need a Medicare Advantage plan if you would like your vision and dental care covered, too. This is important to understand because diabetes can affect your oral and ocular health. You can learn more about Medicare Advantage plans from Aetna here.


    Diabetes Increases Your Risk of Oral Fungal Infections

    People with high blood sugar run a significantly higher risk of oral candidiasis. Another term for this fungal infection is thrush. Further, diabetes makes it much more difficult to heal after tooth extraction or other dental treatments. Colgate explains further that fungus is not the only probable concern; bacteria can also thrive in the mouths of diabetics, as glucose serves as a food and energy for bacterial organisms. This leads to a greater risk of gum disease, which must be treated via professional cleaning, possible root planning, and potentially periodontal surgery. Gum disease treatment is not covered by Medicare, but it may be covered under a Medicare Advantage insurance plan.


    You Will Likely Experience Vision Changes

    Many seniors recognize soon after diagnosis that their vision has changed. The way the body tries to compensate for diabetes is to produce more insulin. However, since the body does not use insulin correctly, this can lead to extremely high blood sugar levels, which can damage your eyes. All About Vision reports that eye problems associated with diabetic retinopathy include cataracts, double vision, corneal abnormalities, and fluctuating vision. Like dental care, basic vision services must be paid out of pocket if you have Original Medicare.


    Diet and Exercise Can Help You Control Your Disease

    A poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity contribute to and worsen diabetes, but it is possible to reverse the condition and potentially prevent it from rearing its ugly head again. According to Harvard University, exercising and losing weight are among the best things you can do if you are diabetic or concerned about your risk. If you subscribe to Medicare Advantage, you may be able to enjoy a no-cost gym membership and fitness classes that cater to seniors.

    Diabetes is a serious disease, and it’s one that starts a domino effect of declining health. Don’t get caught off guard with medical expenses relating to the condition; make sure you are covered by evaluating your current Medicare plan. Then, take the time to learn more about diabetes and how you can lessen its impact on your life.

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