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Take charge, get tested for HIV

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 00:01

Did you know that 1 in 7 of the more than 1.1 million Americans living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) don’t know they have it?

Getting medical care, support, and maintaining safe behaviors can help improve the health and lives of people living with HIV. Medicare can help.

Medicare covers HIV screenings for people with Medicare of any age who ask for the test, pregnant women, and people at increased risk for the infection (such as gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, or people with multiple sexual partners).

HIV is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. There have been many advances in treatment, but early testing and diagnosis play key roles in reducing the spread of the disease, extending life expectancy, and cutting costs of care.

Get tested. Take charge. Visit Health & Human Services’ HIV.gov website to learn more about National HIV Testing Day, June 27, and watch our video.

Travelling abroad? Check your health coverage first!

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 00:01

If you’re travelling abroad, there’s a lot to do before you leave. There are suitcases to pack, an itinerary to plan, and perhaps a passport to renew. We want you to have a fun, relaxing trip—so don’t forget to include health coverage on your to-do list.

If you have Original Medicare, Medicare covers your health care services and supplies when you’re in the U.S., which includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

But, if you plan to travel overseas or outside the U.S. (including to Canada or Mexico), it’s important to know that in most cases, Medicare won’t pay for health care services or supplies you get outside the U.S. (except in these rare cases).

That doesn’t mean you have to travel without coverage. There are several ways you can get health coverage outside the U.S.:

  1. If you have a Medigap policy, check your policy to see if it includes coverage outside the U.S.
  2. If you get your health care from another Medicare health plan (rather than Original Medicare), check with your plan to see if they offer coverage outside the U.S.
  3. Purchase a travel insurance policy that includes health coverage.

Check with your policy or plan before traveling and make sure you understand what’s covered outside the U.S. For information on other foreign travel situations (like a cruise, dialysis, or prescription drugs) you can watch this video.

Taking the time to plan out your health coverage before you travel abroad will help you to have a more enjoyable and relaxing trip. For more information on how to stay healthy abroad, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s Traveler’s Health page.

Even “healthy” guys need health screenings

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 00:01

Are you the type of guy who puts off doing a task and later wishes he’d just done it? Do you think that if you don’t feel ill, then everything must be fine? If you’re a man with Medicare, now’s the time to talk with your doctor about whether you should get screened for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or both. Screening tests can find cancer early, when treatment works best.

Don’t put off screenings if you’re worried about the cost—if you’re a man 50 or over, Medicare covers a digital rectal exam and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test once every 12 months. Also, Medicare covers a variety of colorectal cancer screenings—like the fecal occult blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy—and you pay nothing for most tests.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, second only to lung cancer in the number of cancer deaths. Not sure whether you should get screened? You’re at a higher risk for getting prostate cancer if you’re a man 50 or older, are African-American, or have a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer.

Colorectal cancer is also common among men—in fact, it’s the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among cancers that affect both men and women. If everyone 50 to 75 got screened regularly, we could avoid as many as 60% of deaths from this cancer.

In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Fortunately, screening tests can find these polyps, so you can get them removed before they turn into cancer. If you’re 50 or older, or have a personal or family history of colorectal issues, make sure you get screened regularly for colorectal cancer.

June is Men’s Health Month. It’s the perfect time for you to take the steps to live a safer, healthier life. Watch our video on how Medicare has you covered on colorectal cancer screenings, and visit the Men’s Health Network website on Men’s Health Month for more information.

Choose health, not tobacco

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 00:01

Are you or a loved one hooked on tobacco? Make May 31—named by the World Health Organization as World “No Tobacco” Day—your starting point to kick the habit.

Tobacco use is the second leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 1 in every 10 adult deaths. Join the millions who’ve found a good reason to give it up. If you’re ready to quit smoking, Medicare can help.

Medicare Part B covers up to 8 face-to-face counseling sessions in a 12-month period when you get them from a qualified doctor or other qualified health care provider. You pay nothing for these sessions if your doctor or other health care provider accepts assignment.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and the National Cancer Institute to learn more about how you can quit smoking. You can also watch our video to learn more about how Medicare can help you kick the smoking habit.

 

Not getting quality care? We want to know.

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 00:01

If you don’t think you’re getting high-quality care, you have the right to file a complaint.

When you’re unhappy with the quality of your health care, it’s often useful to talk about your concerns with whoever gave you the care. But, if you don’t want to talk to that person or need more help, you can file a complaint.

How you file a complaint depends on what or who it’s about. Each health or drug plan has its own rules for filing complaints, so check out the pages below depending on what type of complaint you have:

Once you file a complaint with your plan, if you still need help, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

If you’ve contacted 1-800-MEDICARE about a Medicare complaint and still need help, ask the 1-800-MEDICARE representative to send your complaint to the Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. The Ombudsman staff helps make sure your complaint is resolved.

You can also let us know if you disagree with a coverage or payment decision made by Medicare, your Medicare health plan, or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan by filing an appeal.

For other kinds of Medicare-related complaints, you can call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free, personalized help.

Know that you have the right to get quality care. Also know you have the right to complain if you don’t.

Protect yourself from hepatitis with Medicare

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 00:02

Did you know that hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, kills nearly 1.4 million people worldwide every year?

Hepatitis is contagious. The Hepatitis B virus spreads through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also get infected by coming in contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days. Hepatitis B can range from being a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term illness (chronic) that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

Fortunately, Medicare can help keep you protected from the most common types of viral hepatitis strains—Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Generally, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) covers Hepatitis A shots when medically necessary.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers Hepatitis B shots, which usually are given as a series of 3 shots over a 6-month period (you need all 3 shots for complete protection).

Medicare covers a one-time Hepatitis C screening test if your primary care doctor or practitioner orders it and you meet one of these conditions:

  • You’re at high risk because you have a current or past history of illicit injection drug use.
  • You had a blood transfusion before 1992.
  • You were born between 1945 and 1965.

May is Hepatitis Awareness month. Find out more about preventing and treating hepatitis.

Stroke recovery—Medicare can help

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 00:01

Did you know that more than half a million people over the age of 65 suffer a stroke each year? If you’re recovering from a stroke and suffering major side effects, like problems with hearing or vision, paralysis, balance problems, or difficulty walking or moving around in daily life, Medicare covers rehabilitation services to help you regain your normal functions.

Medicare covers medical and rehabilitation services while you’re in a hospital or Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). It also helps pay for medically-necessary outpatient physical and occupational therapy.

If you need rehabilitation after a stroke, visit Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Compare to find and compare rehabilitation facilities in your ZIP code. You can compare facilities based on quality of care, like how often patients get infections or pressure ulcers.

There are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of having a recurring stroke, like smoking and drinking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and bad eating habits. Knowing your risk factors can help prevent a stroke from happening again. You can also prevent 80% of recurring strokes through lifestyle changes and medical interventions. Medicare covers these preventive services that can help you, and in most cases, you’ll pay nothing for these services:

Suffering a stroke can be scary, and for some the recovery can be life changing. Having the resources you need to take control of your health can help you with your recovery and perhaps prevent another stroke.

Look out for your new Medicare card!

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 09:55

Keep an eye on your mailbox—Medicare is sending new cards with new Medicare numbers to people with Medicare. Mailing has started in certain states and will continue over the next few months nationwide. Your new Medicare card will include a new number unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number. This will help to protect you against identity fraud.

If you want to know when you’ll get your new card, visit Medicare.gov/NewCard and sign up to get email alerts from Medicare. We’ll send you an email when cards start mailing in your state, and we’ll also email you about other important Medicare topics.

You can also sign in to your MyMedicare.gov account and see when Medicare mailed your new card. If you don’t have a MyMedicare.gov account yet, visit MyMedicare.gov to create one. Once your new card has mailed, you can sign in anytime to see your new Medicare Number or print a copy of your card.

Remember that mailing takes time, so you might get your card at a different time than friends or neighbors in your area.

Once you get your new Medicare card:

  • Destroy your old Medicare card. Make sure you destroy your old card so no one can get your personal information.
  • Start using your new Medicare card right away! Your doctors, other health care providers and facilities know that it’s coming, so carry it with you when you need care. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
  • Keep your other plan cards. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) or a Medicare Drug Plan, keep using that Plan ID card whenever you need care or prescriptions. However, you should carry your new Medicare card too — you may be asked to show it.
  • Protect your Medicare Number just like your credit cards. Only give your new Medicare number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurer, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.

Have you checked your pressure?

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:03

About 1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure—and you could be one of them. If you haven’t checked your blood pressure lately, now’s the time to take a quick and easy test. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, but it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

It’s important for you to know your blood pressure numbers, even when you’re feeling fine. Checking your blood pressure is easy because it’s covered in your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit and yearly “wellness” visits at no cost to you.

If you have high blood pressure, you can help control it with lifestyle changes and medicine. You may be at risk for high blood pressure if you:

  • Smoke
  • Eat salty foods
  • Don’t exercise enough
  • Drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure
  • Are overweight

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Find out more about how to fight high blood pressure and get checked today!

Protect your bones, protect your life

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:02

Brittle bones could shatter your life. Every year, more Americans are diagnosed with osteoporosis—a disease that causes bones to weaken and become more likely to break. You may not know that you have this “silent” disease until your bones are so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes your wrist to break or your hip to fracture.

Medicare can help you prevent or detect osteoporosis at an early stage, when treatment works best. Talk to your doctor about getting a bone mass measurement. If you’re at risk, Medicare covers this test once every 24 months (more often if medically necessary) when your doctor or other qualified provider orders it.

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. Learn more about your risk for osteoporosis and how to prevent and treat it at the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Watch our short video to learn more about how Medicare can help you protect your bones.

Too old? No such thing!

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:01

You can never be too old to improve your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. May is Older Americans Month, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate the many ways in which older adults can make a big difference. When we come together to celebrate this year’s theme of “Engage at Every Age,” people of all ages can participate in activities that bring our communities together to learn, socialize, and celebrate!

How can you get involved? Start by striving for personal health and wellness. The best way to stay healthy is to live a healthy lifestyle, and we’re here to help! Medicare covers these services to help you get healthier and prevent disease:

Call your doctor today to set up a yearly “Wellness” visit to see if any of these services are right for you. Your doctor can also give you personalized wellness tips. Taking care of your physical and mental health will help give you energy to engage in other areas of your life.

In addition to getting and staying healthy, there are lots of activities you can do to improve your wellbeing and wellbeing of others. Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk to youth in your community who can benefit from hearing about your life experience and wisdom.
  • Invite members of your community to an event, like a meal or special program.
  • Plan a volunteering event, like gardening in your neighborhood or collecting food for those in need.

Get more great ideas on how to get involved in Older Americans Month and more information on this year’s theme of Engage at Every Age. Be sure to take a selfie (or groupie) and post the photo on social media with the hashtag #OAM18! Visit oam.acl.gov to learn more.

Our new Privacy Manager puts privacy choices at your fingertips

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 00:01

Your privacy is very important. That’s why we have important safeguards in place to protect the information you give us when you visit Medicare.gov. We’ve added a tool that lets you easily control some of the information we may collect from you.

When you visit Medicare.gov, we use common web tools to collect information—things like:

  • What websites you came from
  • What Medicare.gov pages you visit
  • How much time you spend on Medicare.gov
  • What page you’re on when you leave Medicare.gov

We use this information to help us improve Medicare.gov and our outreach to people with Medicare.

You can decide whether you want us to collect this information during your visits to Medicare.gov. Our new Privacy Manager lets you easily adjust your settings to match your comfort level.

To view or change your privacy settings, visit Medicare.gov, and select “Privacy settings” at the bottom of the page. Here’s what it looks like:

You can choose “on” or “off” for tracking certain types of information about your Medicare.gov visits, like advertising or social media. No matter what you choose, you’ll still have access to everything on Medicare.gov. But, if you choose “off,” we won’t use your visit to:

  • Improve Medicare.gov to make it more useful for visitors
  • Improve our public education and outreach through digital advertising

We’re committed to protecting your privacy. To learn more about how we protect your privacy when you visit Medicare.gov, visit our privacy policy.

Celebrate Earth Day—Think globally, act locally!

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 00:01

Nearly 200 countries celebrate Earth Day on April 22—a day for encouraging awareness and action for the environment. How can you make your voice heard this year? Let Medicare help! Medicare has several electronic resources to help you manage your health care better.

One great way is to sign up to get your “Medicare & You” handbook electronically. If you have an eReader (like an iPad, Kindle Fire, Surface, or Galaxy Tab) you can download a free digital version to your eReader and take it with you anywhere you go.

Don’t have an eReader? You can still sign up to get a paperless version in a few simple steps. We’ll send you an email in September when the new eHandbook is available. The email will explain that instead of getting a paper copy in your mailbox each October, you’ll get an email linking you to the online version. This online version of the handbook contains all the same information as the printed version. Even better, the handbook information on Medicare.gov is updated regularly, so you can be confident that you have the most up-to-date Medicare information!

Another way is to go paperless and get your “Medicare Summary Notices” electronically (also called “eMSNs”). You can sign up by visiting MyMedicare.gov. If you sign up for eMSNs, we’ll send you an email each month when they’re available in your MyMedicare.gov account. These eMSNs contain the same information as paper MSNs. You won’t get printed copies of your MSNs in the mail if you choose eMSNs.

Sign up today to get your “Medicare & You” information and MSNs electronically, and you’ll be making a difference for the environment. What a great way to make your voice heard and celebrate Earth Day.

Rethink drinking

Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:09

As you get older, alcohol may start to effect you differently. You may become more sensitive to it, and your regular drinking habits could become a problem. Drinking too much alcohol can cause falls and fractures. Alcohol can also cause dangerous interactions when mixed with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Over a long time, it can also lead to some cancers, liver and brain damage, osteoporosis, and strokes.

Medicare covers alcohol misuse screening & counseling to provide counseling for people who misuse alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends adults 65 and over who are healthy and don’t take medications have no more than 3 drinks on a given day or 7 drinks in a week.

If you think you or a loved one could be misusing alcohol, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and Medicare’s here to help you stay safe and healthy.

New Medicare cards have started to mail!

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 14:00

Medicare has started sending new cards with new Medicare Numbers to people with Medicare. Your new Medicare card will include a new number unique to you, instead of your current Social Security-based number. This will help to protect you against fraud.

Starting this month, people who are enrolling in Medicare for the first time will be among the first in the country to get the new cards. If you have Medicare already, you’ll get your new card over the coming months. Medicare will mail cards on a rolling basis, sending a new card with a new number at no cost to everyone with Medicare over the next year. To update your official mailing address, visit your MySocialSecurity account, or call 1-800-772-1213.

If you want to know when new cards start mailing to your area, visit Medicare.gov/NewCard, and sign up to get email alerts from Medicare. We’ll send you an email when cards start mailing in your state, and we’ll also email you about other important Medicare topics. While the cards have a new look, your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.