Why Screening Tests Matter

If you are 65 or older, Medicare will now cover—at no cost to you—a number of screening tests and counseling services to help you maintain your health. These services were selected because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a highly regarded independent body of scientists, has determined that there is good evidence to support their value in certain people 65 or older (and sometimes younger).

Here is a list of services, with an explanation of why each may make a difference in your health as you get older.

Alcohol Misuse

The USPSTF recommends screening and behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse by adults.

Why This Matters

Alcohol misuse is strongly associated with health problems, disability, death, injury, social disruption, and violence. In the United States, excessive alcohol consumption generates nearly $185 billion in annual economic costs, largely due to lost productivity. Much of this burden is preventable, as evidenced by the National Commission on Prevention Priorities (NCPP) ranking of alcohol screening and brief counseling as the third most important clinical preventive service for adults, behind daily aspirin use and smoking cessation counseling.

About 3.8 percent of adults aged 65 and older reported binge drinking in 2009 on at least one occasion within the past 30 days. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men within a short period of time.

Question:

Are you aware that perhaps you are drinking more than you should, yet your doctor has not asked you about your alcohol consumption within the past 2 to 3 years?

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