Depression is a mental health condition that affects mood. Depression screenings should be conducted by your primary care provider (PCP) or another trusted doctor to ensure that you are correctly diagnosed and treated.
Medicare Part B covers an annual depression screening. You do not need to show signs or symptoms of depression to qualify for screening. However, the screening must take place in a primary care setting, like a doctor’s office. This means Medicare will not cover your screening if it takes place in an emergency room, skilled nursing facility (SNF), or hospital.
The annual depression screening includes a questionnaire that you complete yourself or with the help of your doctor. This questionnaire is designed to indicate if you are at risk or have symptoms of depression. If your results show that you may be at risk of depression, your provider will perform a thorough assessment and will refer you for follow-up mental health care if appropriate.
In most cases, you should receive your depression screening when you have a scheduled doctor’s office visit. However, your provider can choose to screen you during a separate visit.
Note: Your provider is required to review your potential for depression and other mental health conditions during your Welcome to Medicare Visit and your first Annual Wellness Visit. However, your provider is not required to formally screen you for depression during either visit. During a review, your provider should discuss your risk factors for depression, such as a family history, but you will not receive a screening questionnaire.
If you qualify, Original Medicare covers depression screenings at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you receive the service from a participating provider. This means you pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance). Medicare Advantage Plans are required to cover depression screenings without applying deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance when you see an in-network provider and meet Medicare’s eligibility requirements for the service.
During the course of your screening, your provider may discover and need to investigate or treat a new or existing problem. This additional care is considered diagnostic, meaning your provider is treating you because of certain symptoms or risk factors. Medicare may bill you for any diagnostic care you receive during a preventive visit.