While tuberculosis is preventable and treatable , in some cases, it can be deadly. The infectious disease is caused by bacteria spread through microscopic droplets in the air, like when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
When it comes to tuberculosis, there are two types of conditions:
Latent TB infection: When tuberculosis bacteria live in your body without making you sick. According to the CDC , millions of Americans are living with latent TB infection. In many cases, your body can fight off the TB bacteria, and you won’t feel sick nor can you spread the bacteria to others.
TB disease: When tuberculosis bacteria become active and multiply. Typically, people with latent TB infection can be prescribed treatment to prevent infection from developing to disease. If you have TB disease, you’ll have symptoms and can spread it to others.
Health programs in the U.S. throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s helped control tuberculosis (often referred to as TB), but it’s still a concern today. Let’s discuss TB symptoms and risk factors and when Medicare covers this test.
Who Is at the Greatest Risk of Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis can affect anyone, but certain people can be at a higher risk or acquiring the infectious disease, including:
Those who have been near others with the disease
Caregivers who are near high-risk patients
Younger people exposed to adults at high risk for tuberculosis
People from an area where tuberculosis is common, like much of Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia
Those who work or live in a high-risk setting, like nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
People with weakened immune systems from conditions like HIV, diabetes, kidney disease or cancer
The most common symptoms of TB disease include a cough lasting three or more weeks, chest pain and coughing up blood or sputum. While tuberculosis bacteria most commonly affect the lungs, it can take a toll on other parts of your body, as well, like the kidneys, spine or brain. Symptoms may vary depending on the organs involved.
When Does Medicare Cover TB Tests?
he most common way to test for tuberculosis infection is through an injection of fluid under the skin that causes a visible reaction if TB bacteria is present. Although, if you’ve received a tuberculosis vaccine, that could cause a false positive, and your doctor may order a blood test instead.
Medicare Part B covers these diagnostic lab tests if your health practitioner orders them and considers them medically necessary.
Tuberculosis can be treated with a full course of antibiotics whether symptoms are present or not. In fact, it may be necessary to treat someone with a latent TB infection to prevent it from becoming active and spreading to others. Some strains of TB bacteria can become drug-resistant, requiring more intensive treatments.
To determine your level of coverage when it comes to tuberculosis and Medicare, call Senior Healthcare Direct to speak to a licensed agent at 1-833-463-3262, TTY 711.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above is meant to be strictly educational and not intended to provide medical advice or solicit the sales of an insurance product or service of any kind.