The "Welcome to Medicare" visit: a missed opportunity for cancer screening among women?

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2013 Jan;22(1):19-25. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2012.3777. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Background: On January 1, 2005, Medicare began covering a "Welcome to Medicare" visit (WMV) for new enrollees with fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare (Parts A and B). The new benefit was expected to increase demand for mammography and Pap tests among women transitioning onto Medicare. This study examined whether Medicare's coverage of a WMV influenced the use of mammography and Pap tests among women aged 65 and 66 years with FFS Medicare.

Methods: Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) data from 2001 to 2007 were linked with Medicare claims. Utilization rates for preventive visits, mammography, and Pap tests were measured among women entering Medicare. Multivariate logistic regressions were estimated to quantify the effects of the new Medicare benefit on the use of these screening tests, controlling for patient characteristics.

Results: Regression-adjusted mammography and Pap test rates did not increase after WMV coverage was introduced. The 2005 reform had nonsignificant trivial effects on the use of both tests, most likely because few of the women who were eligible for a WMV took advantage of it.

Conclusions: Medicare coverage of a WMV had no impact on mammography screenings or Pap tests among women who were eligible for the benefit.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fee-for-Service Plans
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medicare / economics
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*