Does Medicare Cover Mammograms?

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Russell Noga
by Russell Noga | Updated December 28th, 2023

Does Medicare Cover Mammograms?

Do i need a referral for a mammogram with medicare Breast cancer is a major health concern affecting countless lives.

Early detection through mammograms can significantly improve treatment outcomes and save lives.

But, does Medicare cover mammograms?

This blog post aims to answer this pressing question: “Does Medicare cover mamagrams?” and provide insight into the various types of mammograms and the extent of their coverage under Medicare.


Key Takeaways

  • Medicare covers various mammogram screenings and additional breast cancer detection methods, such as breast ultrasounds and 3D imaging.
  • Medicare Part B offers annual screening mammograms for women aged 40+ with no cost-sharing, while diagnostic tests may incur a copayment or coinsurance.
  • Supplemental insurance options can help cover costs not covered by Medicare to promote early detection of health conditions.

Understanding Mammograms and Medicare Coverage


Does medicare cover breast ultrasound Mammograms are instrumental in detecting early-stage breast cancer, thereby boosting the probability of successful treatment.

Medicare acknowledges this and provides coverage for various mammograms such as conventional, digital, and 3D types.

These imaging tools use low-dose X-rays to create detailed images of the breast tissue, helping physicians identify any irregularities, such as lumps or tumors, that may indicate the presence of cancer.


The American Cancer Society equates the importance of mammograms in breast cancer detection with lung cancer screening, highlighting the vital role these tests play in detecting cancer early.

Medicare covers various mammogram screenings and additional breast cancer detection methods like breast ultrasounds when deemed medically necessary.


Conventional Mammogram


A conventional mammogram is a standard X-ray imaging technique processed on film, which helps healthcare professionals identify breast cancer. During the procedure, each breast is individually compressed between two plates to disperse the tissue, making it easier to detect irregularities. An X-ray beam is directed through the tissue. An image of the tissue is then captured on either film or computer. Conventional mammograms have a detection rate of 79% and a false-positive rate of 9.5%.

Conventional mammograms, while generally safe, carry some risks like exposure to low-dose radiation and possible false-positive or false-negative results. Nonetheless, the advantages of mammograms in detecting breast cancer significantly overshadow any potential negatives.


Digital Mammogram


Digital mammograms, unlike conventional mammograms, process images on a computer instead of film. Research has shown that digital mammography is as effective as film mammography in detecting breast cancer and is more effective for women under 50 years old. This increased sensitivity allows for a more accurate detection of breast cancer in younger women, who often have denser breast tissue.

Medicare provides coverage when a diagnostic mammogram is required, for instance, to confirm the presence of suspected cancer. It covers 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for diagnostic mammograms, leaving the beneficiary with a 20% coinsurance responsibility.



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3D Mammogram


A 3D mammogram, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), takes a series of breast tissue layers and synthesizes them into a 3D model. Medicare began covering 3D mammograms in 2015. Receiving a 3D mammogram as a diagnostic test may come with a higher out-of-pocket cost than a 2D mammogram. It is important to keep this potential cost in mind before scheduling your appointment..

3D mammograms have a 51% higher detection rate for invasive cancer compared to digital mammograms, offering a more comprehensive and detailed view of the breast tissue. This advanced imaging technique is particularly beneficial for women with dense breast tissue or those at increased risk for breast cancer.


Medicare’s Role in Mammogram Coverage

Medicare covers both screening and diagnostic mammograms, guaranteeing that beneficiaries can access these vital tests for early breast cancer detection.

For screening mammograms, Medicare covers annual tests for women aged 40 and above, with specific guidelines for frequency and cost-sharing.

Diagnostic mammograms are also covered when deemed medically necessary, with patients responsible for 20% of the cost.

The distinction between cost-sharing for screening and diagnostic mammograms under Medicare should be noted. A screening mammogram is typically covered with no cost to the beneficiary.

However, a diagnostic mammogram may require a copayment or coinsurance.



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Screening Mammograms


Screening mammograms are indispensable for early detection of breast cancer when treatment is most likely to succeed.

Medicare covers annual screening mammograms for women aged 40 and above, with no cost-sharing required. This coverage includes one baseline mammogram for women aged 35-39.

Medicare Part B is designed to provide coverage for preventive medical services, and Medicare Part B covers a screening mammogram once every 12 months for women who are 40 years of age or older.

Covering these significant screenings helps Medicare promote early detection and treatment of breast cancer, while keeping in mind the Part B deductible.


Diagnostic Mammograms


Diagnostic mammograms are used to detect breast cancer by evaluating specific symptoms or concerns like:


  • lumps
  • pain
  • changes in the nipple
  • irregularities in the breast


Why is my mammogram not covered by insurance Unlike screening mammograms, which are standard evaluations conducted to identify breast cancer in individuals without symptoms, diagnostic mammograms are requested by a physician in response to particular concerns, often following a clinical breast exam.

Medicare covers diagnostic mammograms if they are deemed medically necessary, such as when a screening mammogram indicates an anomaly requiring further evaluation or when a woman has a personal history or elevated risk of breast cancer.


The coverage for diagnostic mammograms is at 80% of the Medicare-approved amount, and the beneficiary is responsible for a 20% coinsurance.


Additional Breast Cancer Detection Methods Covered by Medicare

Besides mammograms, Medicare also covers other breast cancer detection methods if they are medically necessary. These include breast ultrasounds and 3D breast imaging, providing beneficiaries with a comprehensive range of tools for early cancer detection and diagnosis.

Breast ultrasounds, which use high-frequency sound waves to generate detailed images of the breast’s interior, are covered for high-risk women or when medically necessary.

Similarly, Medicare covers 3D breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) when deemed medically necessary.


Breast Ultrasound


Are diagnostic mammograms covered by insurance Breast ultrasounds are safe and painless procedures that can aid in detecting breast cancer in high-risk women or as medically required. Medicare Part B provides coverage for medically necessary breast ultrasounds.

This must be ordered by a healthcare provider. However, breast ultrasounds conducted as a screening study are not covered by Medicare.

It is possible there may be additional costs associated with a breast ultrasound under Medicare.


The exact amount would depend on variables such as the provider and location. It is advisable to contact your healthcare provider and Medicare for further information on potential additional costs.


3D Breast Imaging


Mammogram insurance coverage age 3D breast imaging, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), provides a more extensive and detailed view of the breast tissue.

This is especially beneficial for women with dense breast tissue or those at a heightened risk for breast cancer.

Medicare provides coverage for 3D breast MRIs when deemed medically necessary. The expense of a 3D breast MRI under Medicare is approximately $403.84.


Supplemental insurance, such as a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, can assist in covering the cost of a 3D breast MRI under Medicare by paying for the Medicare Part B coinsurance.

Age Considerations for Mammogram Coverage

Age significantly influences mammogram coverage under Medicare, with explicit guidelines for women aged 65 and above.

For women in this age group, Medicare covers mammograms on an annual basis. There is no decrease in mammogram coverage for females aged 70 and above under Medicare.

Medicare’s specific regulations regarding mammogram coverage for older women are derived from multiple considerations, such as:


  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s proposals
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Potential advantages of early detection
  • Guaranteeing access to preventive care without financial impediments.


Mammograms After Age 65


Does medicare cover pap smears Mammograms remain important for women aged 65-74, as they can aid in the early detection of breast cancer.

Research has shown that consistent biennial screening mammography in this age group reduces breast cancer mortality. It is suggested for women in good health to consider screening mammograms even after they surpass the screening age range.

Medicare covers annual screening mammograms for women aged 65-74, with no cost-sharing required. This ensures that women in this age group have access to essential screenings for early breast cancer detection.


Mammograms for Women Aged 70 and Above


The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women aged 70 and above should transition to mammograms every 2 years or continue with yearly screening.

Medicare provides coverage for mammogram screenings for women aged 70 and above, covering the entire expense of yearly screening mammograms.

Continuing screening mammography for women in their late 70s and early 80s can decrease breast cancer mortality, and it is recommended for women aged 55 and above to undergo mammograms every two years or continue with annual screening.

Supplementing Medicare Mammogram Coverage

If out-of-pocket costs associated with mammograms not covered by Medicare worry you, consider Medicare Supplements, like Medigap or Medicare Advantage plans.


Does medicare cover bone density test These supplemental insurance options can help cover mammogram costs, including deductibles and coinsurance, ensuring that you have access to the essential tests needed for early breast cancer detection.

Given the various options, comparing and obtaining quotes for different Medicare Supplements to find the most suitable plan for your needs is necessary.


A comprehensive plan can provide peace of mind and financial protection, allowing you to focus on maintaining your health and well-being.


Preventive Services and Cancer Screenings Under Medicare

Beyond mammograms, Medicare covers an extensive array of preventive services and cancer screenings to promote the early detection and treatment of numerous health conditions, including colorectal cancer.

Some of the cancer screenings covered by Medicare include colonoscopies, Pap tests, and prostate cancer screenings, ensuring that beneficiaries have access to essential preventive care.

Covering these critical screenings and preventive services allows Medicare to enhance the health and well-being of its beneficiaries by facilitating early detection and treatment of potential health issues.

Taking advantage of these services can lead to better health outcomes and overall quality of life.


In conclusion, Medicare plays a critical role in providing coverage for mammograms and other breast cancer detection methods, promoting early detection and treatment of this prevalent disease.

With specific guidelines for women aged 65 and above, as well as coverage for additional breast cancer detection methods, Medicare ensures that beneficiaries have access to the essential tests needed for optimal health.

By taking advantage of these services, you can stay proactive in maintaining your health and well-being.



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Frequently Asked Questions

Are mammograms covered 100% by Medicare?

Original Medicare covers mammogram screenings at 100%, with no deductible or coinsurance required, as long as you receive the service from a participating provider.


When did Medicare start covering mammograms?

Medicare first began covering mammography screenings in 1991 as part of its Part B preventive services for women. In 1998, the Part B deductible for mammograms was waived, though women were still responsible for copays until 2011.


Are mammograms necessary after age 70?

Though guidelines differ, Marisa Weiss from and the American Cancer Society recommend mammography for women over 70 whose life expectancy is more than 10 years, and the U.S. P

reventive Services Task Force suggests routine mammography every 2 years for women ages 70-74.

Therefore, mammograms can be beneficial for older women who are expected to live another 5 to 10 years or more.


Does Medicare cover 3D mammograms in 2023?

Medicare Part B will cover 3D screening mammograms for women 40 and over once every 12 months, starting in October 2023. Providers that accept Medicare assignment do not require any payment from the patient.


Are breast ultrasounds covered by Medicare?

Yes, Medicare covers breast ultrasounds when medically necessary or for high-risk women.

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Finding the right Medicare Plan 2024 doesn’t have to be confusing. Whether it’s a Medigap plan, or you want to know if Medicare covers mammograms, we can help.

Call us today at 1-888-891-0229 and one of our knowledgeable, licensed insurance agents will be happy to assist you!


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