A doctor specializing in heart care, also called a cardiologist, can play a vital role in keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy.
And considering that nearly half of U.S. adults have at least one major risk factor for heart disease, chances are good you’ll visit a cardiologist at some point in your life. From life-saving interventions to preventative care and screenings to managing high blood pressure and other chronic conditions, cardiologists provide many services.
But you may be wondering, how do I schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, and what does Medicare cover in terms of heart care? Read on to find those answers and other topics.
What is a cardiology appointment?
When you make a cardiology appointment, you’re scheduling a visit with a cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in the heart and blood vessels.
Cardiologists treat a wide range of diseases including chest pain, high blood pressure, blood clots, heart failure, heart valve problems, stroke and arrhythmia. A cardiologist also can administer tests that detect cardiovascular disease, prescribe medication and help you make lifestyle changes to prevent some of these diseases.
What does a cardiologist do on your first visit?
When you go to your first cardiology appointment, the doctor will conduct a physical exam and gather information about your health, medical history, family history and any current symptoms you’re experiencing. Basic information such as your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels can tell your cardiologist about your health and disease risk.
The cardiologist also will want to know about your diet and how much you exercise, if you smoke and any medications you take. If you have the results of any recent tests, this is when you’ll want to share them.
Does Medicare cover cardiology visits?
Yes, Medicare covers heart care in the hospital and outpatient settings, such as a visit with your doctor.
Part B covers doctor visits. After meeting your annual Part B deductible ($233 in 2022), you typically pay 20 percent of the Medicare-Approved Amount for most doctor services. Just make sure the doctor accepts assignment, meaning they will take payment of the approved amount directly from Medicare.
The following cardiology services are free of charge under Medicare.
Part B covers cardiovascular disease screenings once every 5 years at no cost to you. These screenings include blood tests for cholesterol, lipids and triglycerides.
Cardiovascular behavioral therapy
Part B covers cardiovascular behavioral therapy once a year with your doctor free of charge. During the visit, your doctor will check your blood pressure, share tips on healthy eating and may discuss aspirin use.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
Part B covers one abdominal aortic ultrasound in a lifetime for patients with a doctor’s referral and the following risk factors:
- Family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms
- Men ages 65 to 75 who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes
For other cardiology services, Medicare pays 80 percent of the Medicare-Approved Amount, while you pay the rest. These services include cardiac rehabilitation, stress tests and echocardiograms.
How do I schedule a cardiology appointment?
Before scheduling an appointment, you need to find a cardiologist who accepts Medicare. The provider finder at Medicare.gov/care-compare allows you to search in your area for all kinds of medical specialists who accept Medicare, including cardiologists.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to look for cardiologists within the plan’s provider network. Otherwise, the services you get won’t be covered.
Another option, and certainly one of the best, is to ask your primary care physician to help you find a Medicare cardiologist.
My primary care doctor can help me find a cardiologist?
Yes, your primary care doctor can help you find specialists, including cardiologists, who accept Medicare. Primary care doctors already help patients manage their health, including chronic cardiovascular diseases. Your primary care doctor also knows you and your circumstances. So, when you need more specialized heart care, your primary care doctor is in good position to connect you with a cardiologist.
Where can I find a primary care physician who accepts Medicare patients?
NewPrimaryCare.com™ can help you find a quality primary care doctor near you. Our partner providers practice value-based care, meaning Medicare rewards them for helping their patients live healthier.
You can expect quicker appointment scheduling, shorter waits at the doctor’s office and a meaningful connection with your physician. A value-based care doctor always will take the time to get to know you, your concerns and your unique needs.
Use our Find Your Doctor tool to search for and compare value-based care providers near you.