Although North Carolina is a fantastic place to live, if you live in NC, you’ll know there are a lot of troublesome areas for those with seasonal allergies. In fact, cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro are said to be some of the worst cities in the country for people with allergies.
If you suffer from allergies, you may be experiencing itchy eyes, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing. While you can do things to avoid allergies, such as staying indoors, vacuuming regularly, or avoiding cutting grass, sometimes it’s necessary to seek treatment. Particularly if you’ve already tried over-the-counter medicines. You may need to see your local doctor or even start immunotherapy, an allergy treatment to help reduce your body’s sensitivity to specific allergens.
Let’s look at some of the most common sources of allergies in North Carolina and the treatment available. Read on if you want to know: does Medicare cover allergy testing and does insurance cover allergy testing.
You may not realize it, but in North Carolina, we actually have three pollen seasons, including an overlap in seasons. Many people think that pollen is caused by flowers, but it’s more likely to come from trees, grass, and weeds. Unlike flowers, which rely on insect pollination, wind-pollination plants can cause significant allergies in people. The different pollen seasons in North Carolina are determined by the different types of plants that produce pollen.
Between March and June, trees typically release pollen into the air, and in North Carolina, this can peak around April. Trees that can cause significant allergies in North Carolina include oak, hickory, American beech, and river birch.
Grass pollen season typically lasts from mid-spring until fall, with the peak hitting in April and May. The most common grass types that cause allergies in NC include Bermuda grass, centipede, ryegrass, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and zoysia grasses. If you’re laying grass in your yard, consider buying tall fescue, which doesn’t usually cause allergies.
The last pollen season is caused by weeds and lasts from August until winter, usually peaking around September. While a few different weeds in NC can cause allergies, ragweed is usually the worst. People living in rural areas in Charlotte particularly tend to suffer from ragweed allergies.
Mold can thrive in humid weather, making North Carolina prone to mold in the summer months. In addition, mold spores can cause seasonal allergy symptoms for many people. Using a dehumidifier can help discourage mold growth inside your home. Mold spore counts can be higher at night, so it’s also a good idea to keep windows closed overnight.
Like a pollen allergy, some common symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, cough, itchy eyes, watery eyes, sneezing, and dry or scaly skin. Some people also suffer from headaches, migraines, and rashes.
Dust mites are small insects that live indoors. They’re common throughout America and aren’t just prevalent in North Carolina. Allergies can be common in young children and result in a runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, facial pressure, itchy nose, and red or watery eyes. Washing bedding weekly at a hot temperature can help kill bugs and allergy-proofing your bed covers, pillows, and mattresses is also worthwhile.
Top tips for reducing allergies in North Carolina
Here are some common tips to help reduce your exposure to allergies:
Avoid cutting the grass if you can. Instead, try to get a family member to help during pollen season or hire a lawn company to cut your grass to help protect you from allergies.
Avoid going outside in the morning where possible. Between 5 am to 10am is prime pollen time, and 10 am to 3 pm is actually the worst time to be outside if you suffer from ragweed allergies. So head out in the late afternoon or early evening if you can.
Dust, wash and vacuum regularly. Regular cleaning can help remove allergens from your home, particularly dust mites.
Check pollen counts. Monitoring pollen counts online can help you plan your time outside and reduce exposure to pollen.
Understand your allergies. Consider taking an allergy test to determine what’s causing your allergies to better protect yourself.
What allergy treatment and tests are covered by Medicare
If you’re interested in finding out – does Medicare pay for allergy testing – then read on. Allergy-related services may be covered under Medicare Part B. To find out if you qualify, you may need to visit your local doctor. Your coverage is likely to depend on the nature of the allergy and what medical treatment is required.
Suppose your allergy is chronic or could lead to further health complications such as respiratory illness or asthma. In that case, Medicare may pay for treatment. Medicare Part B helps cover costs related to doctor visits, in-hospital physician services, outpatient services, and medicines administered by your doctor, including allergy shots.
If you need prescription drugs, Medicare Part D can help to cover drugs prescribed to treat your allergies.
Medicare Coverage for Allergy Testing
To work out what you’re allergic to, you’ll need to organize an allergy test. Medicare may help cover the cost of tests when allergy symptoms continue to be persistent despite your best efforts to manage them, such as using over-the-counter medication.
Typically, Medicare will cover two types of allergy tests:
- A scratch test involves testing different allergens by placing trace amounts in a solution and then gently pricking your skin, so the allergens make contact. If you’re allergic, you’ll have a small red bump on your skin.
- Intradermal testing is slightly more invasive than a scratch test. A needle is injected just below your skin’s surface, injecting the diluted allergen.
By understanding your allergies, you can talk to your doctor about the right treatment plan for your needs. Your Medicare Part B coverage typically covers both types of allergy tests. However, after meeting your annual Part B deductible, you are responsible for 20% of the remaining costs. Alternatively, you may not have to pay any out-of-pocket expenses if you’ve got a Medigap plan.
Medicare coverage for immunotherapy
For people suffering from severe allergies, immunotherapy treatment (or allergy shots) is necessary to help your body build immunity to a specific allergen. If this type of treatment has been prescribed by your doctor, Medicare will cover 80% of the allowable charges to treat your symptoms.
Private health coverage
Allergy testing and allergy treatment are typically covered by most insurance plans. If you’ve met your deductible for the year, your out-of-pocket costs could be minimal, so it can be an excellent opportunity to get an allergy test to determine what’s causing your allergies.
If you decide to receive immunotherapy, it can also be worth considering starting these if your deductible has been met to keep your costs low. For most insurance plans, your deductible resets to the full amount on January 1, so timing your allergy requirements can save you money.
To check your eligibility, get in touch with your health insurance provider, or contact one of our specialized local health insurance agents to find out more.
Need help finding the right coverage for your allergies?
If you’re affected by allergies, choosing the right level of coverage for allergy tests and treatment can be essential. Our local health insurance agents can help you pick the right type of plan for you; whether it’s private health insurance or to help check if you’re eligible for Medicare. Get in touch with us today to find out more about private health insurance NC and how we can help.