Medicare Your Coverage Options

Medicare covers alcohol screenings and counseling

Written by Diane Archer

Older adults are too often binge drinkers, which can lead to memory loss, difficulty balancing and unstable moods. If you or someone you love is drinking too much, Medicare can help. Medicare covers annual alcohol screenings and counseling to help people over 65 who are drinking more than three drinks at a time or seven drinks each week.

Medicare covers alcohol screenings once a year, as one of its preventive care benefits, even for people who show no signs or symptoms of alcohol abuse. If the screening indicates alcohol misuse, Medicare covers four alcohol counseling sessions each year.

To qualify for full coverage of Medicare alcohol counseling, if you are enrolled in traditional Medicare, see a doctor or nurse practitioner who accepts Medicare assignment. If you are enrolled in a private Medicare Advantage Plan, use a network provider. To qualify for coverage, you must also:

  • Be mentally competent
  • Receive counseling  at a doctor’s office or at a clinic

Medicare does not cover screenings or counseling for alcohol misuse for hospital inpatients or emergency room patients.

Medicare also covers treatment for alcoholism and other substance abuse in both inpatient and outpatient settings. To qualify, your doctor must certify that the services are medically necessary and prepare a treatment plan.

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