Does Medicare Cover Blood Pressure Monitors?
This article was updated on: 09/12/2018
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend using blood pressure monitors at home to track your blood pressure and response to medication. Unfortunately, except in very limited situations, Medicare does not cover blood pressure monitors for use in the home.
How does a blood pressure monitor help me manage my hypertension?
According to the American Heart Association, all people being treated for high blood pressure should monitor their blood pressure at home to help their doctors ensure their treatment is effective.
While using an at-home blood pressure monitor shouldn’t be a substitute for seeing a doctor regularly and having your hypertension monitored by a health-care provider, it can help your health-care team have a more accurate idea of your condition over time. When your blood pressure is taken at the doctor’s office, it is just a “snapshot” of your condition at that particular moment. By measuring your blood pressure regularly at home, your doctor has more data to work with. Having multiple blood pressure measurements taken over a range of time gives your physician a more complete picture of how your blood pressure is responding to treatment and whether your medications are properly managing your hypertension.
Again, using a blood pressure monitor at home should not be a substitute for consulting your doctor. It’s important to continue to take your hypertension medications unless your doctor advises otherwise, even if you get several measurements in the normal blood pressure range.
How do I use a blood pressure monitor?
According to the American Heart Association, the most reliable readings are from a model with an upper arm cuff. The AHA recommends against wrist or fingertip blood pressure monitors, which tend to be less accurate.
It’s a good idea to bring your blood pressure monitor to your next doctor appointment so your doctor can be sure you’re using it correctly and that the readings align with the measurements taken in the office.
Here are some tips for using blood pressure monitors at home:
- Always take your blood pressure at the same time each day, unless your doctor recommends otherwise.
- Take two or three readings a minute or two apart and record the results in a blood pressure journal. Be sure to bring your journal with you to your doctor appointments.
- Avoid smoking, drinking caffeine, or exercising for at least 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure.
- Sit up straight in a chair with a back and keep your feet flat on the floor. Rest your arm on a table or other flat surface. Position your upper arm so that it’s level with your heart and the middle of the blood pressure cuff is just above the crook of your elbow.
- If you get a reading that is higher than usual, wait five minutes and take your blood pressure again. If it remains high even after several readings, be sure to call your doctor and ask for instructions.
Does Medicare cover blood pressure monitors?
In general, Medicare doesn’t cover blood pressure monitors (also known as “ambulatory blood pressure monitoring devices”) for use at home.
The exception is if you have suspected “white coat syndrome,” a condition where a patient has an above-normal blood pressure reading in a clinical environment but not in other situations. In this instance, Medicare Part B may pay for an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) device, a type of equipment that records and stores blood pressure readings over 24-hour cycles. To be eligible, you cannot have evidence of end-organ damage. In addition, you must have had blood pressure readings >140/90mm Hg on at least three doctor’s office visits and at least two out-of-office instances that were documented.
If you have Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C), you may have additional benefits. Medicare Advantage plans must offer at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), except for hospice care, which is still covered under Part A. However, these plans may have additional coverage that may pay for certain at-home devices. They may also have lower deductibles and copayments to help you better manage your out-of-pocket health-care costs. Since benefits vary by plan, contact the specific Medicare Advantage plan to find out if blood pressure monitors are covered.
Need more information about home blood pressure monitors?
If you have questions about Medicare coverage of blood pressure monitors or other types of equipment, I am happy to help. If you’d like a phone call or email with personalized information, click the corresponding link below. The Compare Plans button will show you information about plan options you may be eligible for.
For more information on blood pressure monitors, see:
American Heart Association, “Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home,” www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/KnowYourNumbers/Monitoring-Your-Blood-Pressure-at-Home_UCM_301874_Article.jsp#.WRop3VLMxsM