Parkinson Medicare Coverage physical therapy man walking

Parkinson Medicare Coverage

Medicare may provide coverage for Parkinson’s Disease, including medications, treatments, and the following therapies: occupational, physical, and speech. We recommend you have Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage in addition to Original Medicare. Furthermore, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, please choose a plan that includes Part D drug coverage. 

You can shop for Medicare Plans during the Annual Election Period. Outside of Medicare Open Enrollment and under special circumstances, you may be able to switch Medicare Plans during a Special Election Period

Do you or someone you know have Parkinson’s Disease? Discover who is at risk. 

Senior man looks at prescription bottle for Parkinson Medicare coverage
Senior man takes prescription drugs at home.

Risk Factors for Parkinson’s Disease

The Mayo Clinic says Parkinson’s Disease usually starts in “middle or late life.” Furthermore, your risk increases with age. Consequently, “people usually develop the disease around age 60 or older.” Thus, seniors are at risk for developing Parkinson’s Disease. 

Moreover, you have a higher risk when many family relatives have had the disease. Men are more likely to develop it than women. Therefore, senior men, especially with a family history, have a higher risk of the disease. 

Now you know who is at risk. What are the signs and symptoms?

Parkinson disease is the second most neurodegenerative disease, after Alzheimer disease, that affects up to two million Americans, the overwhelming majority of whom are aged 60 and older.

NIH.gov

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that progressively affects movement. For example, an early sign can be a barely noticeable tremor in one hand. The condition also can cause symptoms such as stiffness or slowing of movement. 

Furthermore, during the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, you may see the following:

  • Little or no facial expression
  • Arms that do not swing while walking
  • Feet that drag when you walk
  • Soft or slurred speech
  • Posture and balance problems
Michael J. Fox is a Parkinson’s survivor.

Your symptoms can change over time. For example, Michael J. Fox, who had early-stage Parkinson’s at age 29, now has hand tremors and speech impediments at age 59.

Medicare Prescription Coverage for Parkinson’s

Your Medicare prescription coverage may include drugs that treat the neurological disorders of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Medicare Part D may cover medically necessary medications used to treat PD. For example, your doctor may prescribe the following PD drugs: (WebMD)

  • Levodopa and carbidopa (also called L-dopa): it helps you control symptoms. Mainly, it helps with slow movement and stiff, rigid body parts.
  • Dopamine agonists. These drugs act like dopamine in the brain. 
  • Mao-B inhibitors. These drugs block the brain chemicals that break down dopamine.
  • COMT inhibitors. It helps the brain use levodopa more effectively to ease Parkinson’s symptoms.
Senior man pays for prescription drugs at pharmacy for Parkinson Medicare coverage
Medicare Part D may cover drugs for Parkinson’s

Treatments for PD

Medicare may cover medically necessary treatments for Parkinson’s Disease (PD). To reduce tremors, “doctors use ultrasound beams to destroy brain cells that cause movement problems.” (MichealJFox.org) This non-invasive treatment helps improve motor function. 

When the oral medication Levodopa becomes less effective, your doctor may recommend a Duopa pump. Parkinson’s Foundation says the procedure requires a surgeon to make a small hole (stoma) in your stomach wall. Then a tube delivers Duopa directly into your intestine. 

Finally, when medication is non-effective, your doctor may recommend deep brain stimulation (DBS). Parkinson’s Foundation explains DBS surgery: surgeons insert electrodes into targeted areas of your brain while using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Then an IPG (impulse generator battery) is implanted, producing electrical impulses to your brain. You get a controller to turn the device on or off.

Parkinson Medicare Coverage deep brain stimulation
Medicare covers DBS when medically necessary.

In addition to these treatments for PD, Medicare may provide coverage for different types of therapies.

Therapies for PD

Footsteps on the Beach

Medicare coverage for Parkinson’s may include occupational, physical, and speech therapies. For example, walking barefoot on a sandy beach is a safe place to challenge your balance. If you fall, the sand is much softer than hard ground.

Occupational Therapy

Medicare Part B may pay for occupational therapy when your doctor certifies you need it. People with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) who have trouble with daily living activities can get occupational therapy (OT). For example, OT can help improve the following skills: (WedMD.com)

  • Handwriting
  • Cooking
  • Eating
  • Computer use
  • Dressing

Part B may cover 80% of occupational therapy costs after you pay the Part B deductible. However, most Medicare Supplements cover 100% of your Part B coinsurance costs. You can shop for a Medigap Plan with Senior Healthcare Direct. Call 1-855-368-4717 or get a quote

Parkinson Medicare Coverage occupational therapy senior man peg board
Occupational therapy helps your fine motor skills.

In addition to occupational therapy, Medicare also may provide coverage for physical therapy.

Physical Therapy for PD

Medicare Part B may cover 80% of medically necessary outpatient physical therapy. After paying the Part B deductible, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. Furthermore, there is no limit to how much Medicare pays for outpatient therapy services in a calendar year. 

What form of physical therapy can help with Parkinson’s Disease (PD)? According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Amplitude Training has you perform exaggerated physical movements. For example, high steps and arm swings. It helps you retrain the muscles and slows down hypokinesia (the increasingly smaller, more shuffling movements of Parkinson’s). 

Physical therapist, Padilla-Davidson, says, “Practice walking, keeping in mind the swinging of your arms. It may help to chant or sing to keep the rhythm.” 

Parkinson Medicare Coverage physical therapy man walking
Senior man walks while swinging his arms.

In addition to physical therapy, Medicare also may provide coverage for speech-language pathology services.

Speech Therapy for PD

If you need speech therapy because of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Medicare Part B may cover 80% of the cost. People with Parkinson’s can lose control of muscles in the face, mouth, and throat. Consequently, a person’s voice may change as well as making it difficult to speak or swallow.  

PD can cause a person’s speech to become slurred, mumbled, rapid, and voice softer. The speech therapy you need will depend on your stage of Parkinson’s. Speech therapists recommend you make eye contact while speaking.

The Lee Silverman voice technique (LSVT) significantly improves speech after one month. Furthermore, results last up to two years following treatment. The LSVT method is easy to learn. However, it must be practiced four days a week for four consecutive weeks to be effective. (ParkinsonNewsToday.com)

speech therapy for dysphagia
Senior man with swallowing impairment has electrodes on his neck to strengthen pharyngeal muscles.

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Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by Brian Kondas