As people get older, fingernails and toenails may change in structure and growth rate. This can be the result of diseases, insufficient nutrition, exposure to chemicals or ultraviolet light, or the normal aging processes.
Some of the most common changes that can happen to your toenails as you get older are:
- They don’t grow as fast as they used to.
- They get thicker and harder which makes them difficult to trim and keep clean.
- They can be more prone to fungal infections, especially if your toenails are thick and hard, and you can’t trim them properly. Toenail fungus can cause nail discoloration, a bad odor, crumbling nails, splitting nails, or nail ridges.
- They have a different texture. Many people notice their nails are more brittle and break or split easily. This can be due to changes in hormones, anemia, or hardened arteries.
- They may have a different shape. If your nails are extremely curved, this can be a sign of cardiovascular or digestive issues, so you should talk to your health care provider if you notice this.
- Their color turns yellow or opaque.
These physiological changes together with vision loss or mobility issues can turn toenail trimming into an impossible task. But proper nail care is especially important for diabetics whose feet and toes may be affected by diabetic neuropathy. Improper care of toenails can cause injury or a fungal disease and lead to serious infection or even amputation.
If you’re diabetic and are having trouble trimming your toenails, you might need help from a professional pedicurist or a podiatrist to avoid serious health complications, but do you have Medicare benefits for these services?
Does Medicare cover nail trimming?
Original Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical insurance) don’t typically cover routine foot care such as cutting or removing calluses or corns; nail trimming, cutting, or clipping; and hygienic or preventive foot maintenance.
However, if your health care provider (who accepts Medicare assignment) certifies to Medicare that this type of care is medically necessary to prevent harm or serious health issues, you may be eligible for coverage for foot care and nail trimming services from a podiatrist or other professional who accepts Medicare assignment.
If you are eligible for coverage, Medicare Part B pays for 80 percent of the final approved cost of your care. You pay 20 percent of the cost after meeting your annual Part B deductible.
If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan through a private insurance provider, your plan may include extra benefits like routine dental, vision, hearing, and foot care. Medicare Advantage plan providers are required by law to cover all the benefits included in Original Medicare Parts A and B, but they have the option to offer additional coverage to beneficiaries.
If your provider includes routine foot care services, you may have coverage for nail trimming, callus and corn removal, and other preventive care services. Depending on the type of Medicare Advantage plan you have, you may need to use health care providers and medical facilities that are included in your plan’s network to get coverage. If you aren’t sure who you can visit for this care, call your provider for details before making an appointment. How much you pay for coinsurance also depends on the type of coverage you have.