CareLink of North Little Rock reminds Medicare recipients that health screenings and counseling are offered free through the Preventive Services program. These services help detect a condition early, before the patient shows symptoms. They differ from diagnostic services provided when patients show distinct symptoms of a condition or have a history of the condition.

"Preventive services can identify health problems early, when treatment works best," said Debbie Gillespie, Outreach Manager for CareLink. "Counseling from primary physicians begins a conversation between patients and their doctors on how to prevent many types of diseases and disabilities."

Some preventive services for 2014 include:

• Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm – This ultrasound screening is provided for patients who are considered at high risk, men 65-75 who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

• Alcohol misuse counseling – Medicare covers one alcohol misuse screening from a primary care practitioner per year for adults who use alcohol but do not meet the medical criteria for alcohol dependency.

• Breast Cancer screening – Mammograms are covered once a year.

• Cardiovascular disease behavioral therapy – One visit per year with a primary care doctor to help lower risk for cardiovascular disease is covered to discuss aspirin use, check blood pressure and provide tips on eating well.

• Colon Cancer screening – Fecal occult blood tests are covered each year and colonoscopies every 10 years.

• Depression screening – One depression screening per year in a primary care setting is covered.

• Heart disease screening – Blood tests to screen for cholesterol, lipid, lipoprotein and triglyceride levels are covered every five years.

• Obesity screening and counseling – If received in a primary care settings, those with a body mass index of 30 or more are eligible for Medicare-covered intensive counseling to help lose weight.

• Prostate Cancer screenings – Men can receive PSA tests once a year.

• Sexually transmitted infections screening and counseling – Primary care doctors can order screenings and provide counseling for Medicare beneficiaries at risk for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and Hepatitis B.

• Smoking cessation counseling – Four counseling sessions to stop smoking for people without smoking-related illnesses are offered for one or two quitting attempts per year.

There is no cost to Medicare recipients for these additional services if their doctor or other health care provider accepts Medicare as full payment. If the Medicare patients receive additional tests or services during the same visit that aren’t covered under these preventive benefits, beneficiaries may have to pay coinsurance and the Part B deductible. Recipients who have a Medicare Advantage Plan or other insurance may have different costs.

Older people and their caregivers can get the information and assistance they need from CareLink at 372-5300 or toll-free 800-482-6359 or at