Does Medicare Cover Skin Cancer? 5 Things Beneficiaries Should Know

Older adults are at increased risk of developing skin cancer. Learn how Medicare covers – and doesn’t cover – some melanoma prevention and treatment.

The senior population is most at risk for developing skin cancer. In fact, more than 40% of melanoma cases in the United States involve patients who are 65 or older and result in 60% of all melanoma-related deaths.1

This may leave many older adults wondering what type of skin cancer coverage they have under Medicare. Below are five things to know about utilizing Medicare to protect against the dangers of melanoma.

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1. Medicare Part B does not cover skin cancer screenings for asymptomatic people

While Medicare Part B provides coverage for a range of preventive tests and screenings, melanoma and skin cancer is not among them.

2. Medicare Part B does cover a doctor examination of your skin if you notice a concern

If a beneficiary has noticed a change in the color, size or shape of a mole or lesion or has noticed a new skin growth, Medicare Part B will typically cover a doctor’s office visit to have the spot examined. 

And, if a beneficiary is undergoing an exam for another purpose and a doctor notices a suspicious sign of a possible melanoma and extends the appointment in order to examine the spot, Medicare may pay more for the visit to accommodate the extra time. 

If a Medicare beneficiary is referred to a dermatologist for a specialist appointment as a result, that visit would typically also be covered under Medicare Part B.

3. Both Part A and Part B provide coverage for skin cancer treatment

Having a melanoma or lesion removed from your skin can be done in an outpatient setting, which would typically be covered under Medicare Part B after you meet your Part B deductible.

Should you become hospitalized as a result of skin cancer, Medicare Part A would provide coverage for your inpatient hospital costs after you meet your Part A deductible.

Learn more about Medicare deductibles and other Medicare costs.

4. Your Medicare Wellness visit is a good opportunity to check for melanomas

If you’ve had Medicare Part B for at least 12 months, you are eligible for an annual wellness visit.

The Part B deductible does not apply for your wellness visit, and you will pay nothing for the visit unless additional test or services are performed during the visit. The annual wellness visit is a good opportunity to ask your doctor about any suspicious spots on your skin or to have your doctor look for any notable spots.

5. Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D may cover drugs used to treat skin cancer

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) only provides coverage for medication under very limited circumstances.

Most Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and most Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) that cover prescription drugs, however, can cover many types of medication that are used to treat skin cancer.

Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to cover all of the benefits offered by Original Medicare. This means that a Medicare Advantage plan would cover your skin cancer exam and treatment in the same way that Medicare Parts A and B would.

Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage, and some plans may also cover benefits such as routine dental, hearing and vision care.

You can learn more about Medicare Advantage plans available where you live by calling to speak with a licensed insurance agent. You can also compare plans online for free, with no obligation to enroll.

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1 Garcovich S., et al. (Oct. 1, 2017). Skin Cancer Epidemics in the Elderly as An Emerging Issue in Geriatric Oncology. Aging and Disease, 8(5): 643-661. doi 10.14336/AD.2017.050.