How Depressed Medicare Enrollees Can Find Help


Knowing Your Coverage Options:

Depression impacts more than 6 million of America’s 35 million seniors every year according to the National Council on Aging, yet older adults often don’t know where to turn for help – and many don’t know whether they should look for help, often mistaking their condition for loneliness or irritability. Depression is frequently misdiagnosed in seniors and can easily be mistaken for Alzheimer’s or a sleeping disorder.

But the fact is that more of the nation’s senior population receives treatment for mental health services from primary care doctors than they do from mental health professionals. An older adult may know who to call for treatment for a sore throat yet have no clue where to go for help with depression and anxiety.

Medicare is the primary health maintenance resource for seniors, but it’s of little help if a Medicare beneficiary suffering from depression doesn’t know where to find mental health care providers in their area. Fortunately, there are plenty of useful resources that can help you find the treatment you need, walk you through the enrollment process, locate plans in your area, and find supplemental coverage to help pay for mental health care needs.

Where to look

Psychology Today provides an easy-to-use portal with search capabilities for people seeking a psychologist or therapist who accepts Medicare. You’ll find contact information and a rundown of each practitioner’s treatment specialties, as well as their Medicare status. Mental Health America can also help you find treatment providers, as can SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

Go online to research information about Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans in your area, including information about getting treatment for depression and how coverage breaks down based on what part of Medicare your plan falls under. Original Medicare pays for a preventive screening for depression. Medicare Part A provides coverage if you require an inpatient stay in a medical or psychiatric hospital, while Medicare Part B covers outpatient mental health treatment,

including outpatient counseling, diagnostic testing and evaluations, psychotherapy, and family counseling.

Plan coverage details

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publishes a resource guide with detailed information about Medicare’s mental health services, including eligibility, outpatient/inpatient benefits, prescription drug coverage, and financial assistance. This useful guide spells out exactly what mental health services are covered under Medicare Parts A and B and prescription medication coverage under Part D. Published annually, it provides important information and coverage updates that beneficiaries must stay abreast of.

Plan comparison

It’s also important to review and compare plans regularly, which you can do through, where you can search by state, get detailed information about the enrollment process, compare Medicare Advantage plans — including those plans offered by UnitedHealthcare and other private insurers — and talk to a licensed health insurance agent 24/7.

Supplemental care

Medicare supplemental insurance varies somewhat from state to state, so it’s important to stay up to date on coverage details in your state. Medicare supplement plans help pay out-of-pocket costs not covered under Medicare Part A and Part B. It’s designed to help make Medicare coverage go farther by filling coverage gaps, an important factor for enrollees seeking mental health treatment.

Medicare is a vast health care resource for seniors but it is subject to frequent changes. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the most recent changes in order to get the maximum benefit, to understand how to fill gaps in coverage based on your particular health care needs, and where to find qualified mental health care professionals near you.

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2 thoughts on “How Depressed Medicare Enrollees Can Find Help

  1. At first blush, I am reminded of my 95 year old father who lived with me for some time before he passed. I had asked him to come with me to a seminar I was staging and he said “no”. Taken back with his negative interest in my activities, I asked him somewhat impatiently, “why not dad”, and he said frankly “because I don’t want to”. For many in senior age levels, that about sums up the discussion on depression.

  2. There’s some new links on the end of this blog now that should support the idea of finding support for depression. God knows, there’s a lot of us looking for it. Check in again if you have been here before. Click the links to find help you need.

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