Woman with blood pressure cuff looking at another woman taking her blood pressure

What You Need to Know About High Blood Pressure and Health Insurance

High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is a fairly common condition that can eventually lead to health problems like heart disease and strokes if left untreated. With almost half of all American adults experiencing high blood pressure at some point in their lives, monitoring your blood pressure levels is crucial to maintaining your health. Keep reading to find out about high blood pressure health insurance coverage.

HealthPlans of NC

Health Plans of NC, Kelly Quinn

What are blood pressure and hypertension?

Blood pressure refers to how hard your blood has to push against the walls of your arteries when your heart pumps blood. Your arteries are the tubes carrying your blood away from your heart. Each time your heart beats, it’s pumping blood through your arteries, taking it to other parts of your body. 

High blood pressure doesn’t typically have symptoms, so getting a test is the only way to determine whether you have it. Hypertension is just the medical term for high blood pressure. 

How often should you check your blood pressure?

Usually, a doctor will check your blood pressure as a routine check-up. However, if you haven’t visited your doctor for a while, it’s good to check your blood pressure every two to three years if you’re between 18 and 40. If you’re over 40 or at a high risk of high blood pressure, you should check your blood pressure yearly. 

How do I know if I’m at higher risk for blood pressure?

As you get older, your risk for high blood pressure increases. You can also be at increased risk for high blood pressure if you:

  • are African American

  • are overweight or have obesity

  • are pregnant or had high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy 

  • aren’t physically active

  • drink alcohol excessively

  • regularly smoke

  • eat an unhealthy diet

  • have diabetes, kidney failure, or some heart disease

How is blood pressure measured? 

Your blood pressure reading has two numbers. The top number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is beating, and the bottom number measures the pressure in your arteries in between heartbeats. 

Unfortunately, you can often have high blood pressure without showing any symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose and treat unless you get tested regularly. Once you know you’ve got high blood pressure, however, it’s relatively easy to manage with the proper guidance from your healthcare provider. 

What are the risks of untreated high blood pressure? 

Excessive and ongoing pressure from high blood pressure on your artery walls can damage your blood vessels and organs. The longer your blood pressure goes uncontrolled, the more damage it can cause your body. Some of the health complications that can stem from high blood pressure include: 

Heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure typically causes a thickening or hardening of your arteries, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other complications. 

Heart failure. If you’ve high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder to pump blood, causing the walls of the heart’s pumping chamber to thicken. This thickened muscle eventually has difficulty pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which can result in heart failure.

Aneurysm. High blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to bulge and weaken, forming an aneurysm. A ruptured aneurysm can be life-threatening.

Weakened blood vessels in your kidneys. Weak vessels often prevent your organs from functioning normally, causing various health complications. 

Damaged blood vessels in your eyes. High blood pressure can lead to thickened, narrowed, or torn vessels in your eye area, resulting in vision loss.

Memory loss or confusion. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can affect your ability to learn, remember, and think clearly. As a result, you may experience issues with your memory or find it difficult to understand concepts. 

Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome can lead to a range of issues that make it more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. 

Dementia. Because blocked or narrowed arteries can reduce blood flow to your brain, certain types of dementia may be possible. 

How to prevent high blood pressure

There are plenty of ways to try to prevent or manage your blood pressure, including:

  • regular exercise

  • managing your stress levels

  • maintaining a healthy weight

  • quit smoking

  • eat a healthy diet that’s low in salt

  • reduce your alcohol intake

How can Medicare help with blood pressure and hypertension? 

You’re eligible for blood pressure screenings at no cost during your yearly wellness visit, and preventative visits are welcome if you’ve got Medicare. Alternatively, you can access telehealth services, virtual check-ins, or e-visits, or ask your doctor or healthcare provider for more information. 

Medicare Part B covers the total cost of annual blood pressure checks. However, if you need additional services or tests, you may be required to meet your deductible and pay a coinsurance fee. If so, it’s usually around 20% of the service’s total cost.

What about other insurance providers?

All Marketplace health plans and other private health insurance plans must cover the blood pressure test without charging any copayment at the preventive wellness appointment. This applies even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. 

To access this at no cost, you need to ensure you use a doctor in your provider’s preferred network. To find out which doctors and services are within your network, contact your health plan provider or one of our NC health insurance agents. 

What about high blood pressure and no health insurance?

If you don’t have any health insurance and don’t see a doctor regularly, you can get a free blood pressure screening at a health resource fair or other community health center. Some stores and pharmacies also have blood pressure machines to measure your reading for free. 

Be aware that they must be carried out properly using the correct cuff size for your arm and by someone who knows how to use the machines to get an accurate reading.

What about medication and blood pressure monitors at home?

High blood pressure can often be treated with medication, however, medications are not covered by Original Medicare and you will need to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D if you’re looking for a plan to help cover the costs of blood pressure medication.

If you’re purchasing a plan, be sure to check the types of drugs your plan covers and any copayment or coinsurance you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Our North Carolina-based health insurance agents can help if you have any questions about the different Medicare and health insurance plans for individual and family coverage.

Some insurance plans cover costs for blood pressure monitors for home readings, depending on your plan. If you’re interested in discovering more, it’s a good idea to check with your provider. Even if the cost isn’t covered, you may want to ask about a blood pressure monitor loan program available via some health plan providers. 

Medicare doesn’t cover any costs associated with blood pressure monitors at home. 

More information?

If you’d like more information about establishing the right level of coverage for your health needs, contact one of our experienced agents. We can answer questions about health insurance for high blood pressure and health insurance for hypertension. SEE ALSO: How To Ensure Pre-Existing Conditions Are CoveredBlue Cross NC Launches No-Cost Virtual Programs for Members to Quit Smoking and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Our local North Carolina health insurance agents specialize in helping anyone living in the NC area, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Durham. No matter where you are in North Carolina, we can help. Contact us today or compare plans online.

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