Millions of Americans are living with chronic Hepatitis, yet most don't know it. People can live for decades without symptoms, but over time, chronic hepatitis can cause serious health problems. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has designated May as Hepatitis Awareness Month, as a way to improve knowledge and encourage testing of this preventable disease. If you have Medicare, there are some preventive benefits related to Hepatitis that can help keep you healthy.

Vaccinations are covered under Medicare Part B for people at high or medium risk for Hepatitis B. Your risk for hepatitis B increases if you have hemophilia, End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or diabetes. Certain other conditions can increase your risk for infection, like if you live with someone who has Hepatitis B, or if you're a health care worker and have frequent contact with blood or body fluids.

Three shots are needed for complete protection. You should check with your doctor about when to get these shots if you qualify to get them. As a Medicare beneficiary, you pay nothing for the shot if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare.

Medicare also covers sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings for Hepatitis B for beneficiaries who are pregnant and/or certain people who are at increased risk for an STI.

These tests are covered once every 12 months or at certain times during pregnancy.


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Medicare also covers up to 2 individual 20 to 30 minute, face-to-face, high-intensity behavioral counseling sessions each year for sexually active adults at increased risk for STIs. Medicare will only cover these counseling sessions if they're provided by a primary care doctor or other primary care practitioner and take place in a primary care setting (like a doctor's office). Counseling conducted in an inpatient setting, like a skilled nursing facility, won't be covered as a preventive service.

You pay nothing for these services if your primary care doctor or other qualified primary care practitioner accepts Medicare.

It is important to discuss all aspects of your health with your health care provider, particularly when it relates to the prevention of illness and disease.

For more information about Medicare's preventive services visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDI CARE; TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Ray Hurd is Medicare's Regional Administrator for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Virgin Islands.