Cover Vitamin D Tests!

Medicare and Medicaid cover 118 million people in the US (44 million and 74 million, respectively). This group includes the elderly and the most financially vulnerable citizens. These plans generally cover healthcare services that participating physicians consider “medically necessary”—that is, by conventional medical standards. To get a vitamin D test covered by Medicare or Medicaid there typically needs to be a “clinically documented” underlying disease or condition which is specifically associated with vitamin D deficiency. This refusal to utilize natural medicine puts some of our most vulnerable populations at risk.

Write to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, with a copy to Congress, telling them to cover vitamin D tests for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Recipients

  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative
  • Secretary Alex Azar

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Message

Please cover routine vitamin D tests

Dear [Decision Maker],

Medicare and Medicaid cover 118 million people in the US (44 million and 74 million, respectively). This group includes the elderly and the most financially vulnerable citizens. These plans generally cover healthcare services that participating physicians consider "medically necessary." To get a vitamin D test covered by Medicare or Medicaid there typically needs to be a "clinically documented" underlying disease or condition which is specifically associated with vitamin D deficiency. This refusal to utilize natural medicine puts some of our most vulnerable populations at risk.

Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common: one study found that 42 percent of Americans were deficient in this crucial vitamin, with the highest rates among African Americans (82 percent) and Hispanics (69 percent).

With the current coronavirus outbreak on many people's minds, vitamin D intake has been associated with strengthened immunity against vital infections. Adults and children with higher vitamin D levels contract substantially fewer viral infections. This is likely because vitamin D upregulates the expression of antimicrobial peptides that are secreted by immune cells throughout the body. These peptides damage the outer lipid membrane of infectious agents, making them more easy to eradicate.

There is no magic bullet, but maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is incredibly important. Research has shown that adults with higher levels of vitamin D have 50 percent less risk of colon cancer. Other studies found that vitamin D inhibits the proliferation of cancerous prostate, breast, bone and skin cells as well. Vitamin D may play a role in preventing hypertension. It's also crucial for bone health and osteoporosis prevention. Additional sunlight exposure and/or vitamin D supplementation starting in childhood may reduce the risk of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes. Researchers have observed that multiple sclerosis and other auto-immune diseases are more prevalent in temperate latitudes away from the equator--the implication being that those closer to the equator get more direct sunlight and therefore have higher vitamin D levels.

On the other hand, vitamin D deficiency puts us more at risk for negative health outcomes. Research has shown that 90 percent of people with multiple sclerosis are vitamin D deficient. A 2015 study found that vitamin D-deficient patients in hospital intensive care units (ICU) were 2.4 times more likely to die than patients with adequate vitamin D levels. Note that giving vitamin D-deficient ICU patients large doses of the vitamin does not consistently reverse this threat, suggesting that higher blood levels of vitamin D should be maintained on a consistent basis to get the protective effects.

All of this demonstrates the incredible health benefits that can be achieved if optimal vitamin D levels are reached, and we cannot know what our levels are without getting tested. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure--vitamin D tests can cost around $100, but that is a small price to pay to prevent chronic illness and years of prescription drug costs to treat those conditions. The time to do this testing would obviously be before there is a "clinically documented" underlying disease--the very goal would be to help prevent such a disease from manifesting.

For the above reasons, please consider covering routine vitamin D tests for Medicaid and Medicare patients.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]
[Your Email]