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Does Medicare cover depression screenings and treatments?

Medicare Part B does cover depression screenings and treatments, but the amount of coverage can vary from plan to plan. Mental health conditions like depression can happen at any age, but are often prevalent when someone is diagnosed with another health condition that can be common  later in life, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. With more than 2 million adults aged 65 and older suffering from some form of depression, it’s important to understand what Medicare covers and doesn’t cover when it comes to screenings and treatment.1 

What is depression?

Depression, also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide2

Medicare Coverage of Depression Screenings

Medicare Part B covers one depression screening per year and you do not need to show signs or symptoms to qualify for the screening. It’s important to note that Medicare will not cover your screening if it takes place in an emergency, skilled nursing facility, or hospital. This means the screening must take place in a primary care setting, like your doctor’s office, that can provide follow-up treatment and referrals for Medicare to cover it. The annual depression screening is a questionnaire completed by yourself or with the help of your doctor to help indicate if you are at risk or have symptoms of depression.3

Medicare Coverage of Depression Treatments

Medicare Part B helps cover mental health visits with a doctor and services you generally get outside of a hospital, such as:

  • Psychiatrist or other doctor
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Clinical social worker
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Physician assistant
  • Lab tests ordered by your doctor 

Doctors and psychiatrists who participate in Part B must accept assignment, which you should make sure of before you schedule your appointment. Deductibles and coinsurance may also apply.

Medicare Part A helps cover mental health services you get in a general hospital or psychiatric hospital that require you to be admitted as an inpatient. Part A covers your:

  • Room
  • Meals
  • Nursing care
  • Therapy or other treatment for your condition
  • Lab tests
  • Medications
  • Other related services and supplies

If you’re in a psychiatric hospital, Part A will only pay for up to 190 days of inpatient psychiatric hospital services during your lifetime.

What Medicare Doesn’t Cover

There are a few mental health treatments and services that Medicare doesn’t cover, including:

  • Meals
  • Transportation to or from mental health care services
  • Activity therapy that’s for recreation or to divert attention from other issues
  • Support groups that bring people together to talk and socialize (This is different from group psychotherapy, which is covered) 
  • Testing or training for job skills that isn’t part of your mental health treatment4

It’s important to note, however, that although Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover everything related to mental health treatments and services, there are alternative forms of coverage and community resources that you may be eligible for that do.

Medicare Advantage plans are a strong alternative to Original Medicare. These plans are legally required to include the same coverage as Parts A and B, but often include additional coverages. Based on your needs, the plans available in your area, and the coverage you qualify for, this could include mental health benefits. At SelectQuote, we can help you find all of your options for additional coverage, including mental health support

You may also be eligible for resources in your area that could continue to help fill gaps in your healthcare coverage. Our partner, Population Health, offers a free membership service that can help you discover and access the healthcare services available to you.

SelectQuote Can Help You Get the Most Out of Your Medicare Coverage

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Utilizing the services covered by Medicare and your Medicare plan is an easy way to stay on top of it all. We can help you understand what is and isn’t covered by your Medicare plan, and can connect you to resources to help you get the most out of your Medicare coverage.

1https://www.mhanational.org/depression-older-adults-more-facts
2https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
3https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/depression-screening
4https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10184-Medicare-and-Your-Mental-Health-Benefits.pdf

Questions? Call 1-855-516-9212 to speak with our Customer Care Team.

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