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Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago

It’s always time to quit tobacco

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 00:00

Smoking tobacco can cause many health problems, including heart disease, respiratory diseases, and lung cancer —the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Close to 40 million people in the U.S. still smoke tobacco, but quitting can help prevent these health problems. You can quit smoking today, and Medicare wants to help.

Besides being famous for Thanksgiving, November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the Great American Smokeout. While you’re making lists for the upcoming holiday season, make a note to talk with your doctor about quitting if you smoke. Medicare covers 8 face-to-face smoking cessation counseling sessions during a 12-month period. If you haven’t been diagnosed with an illness caused or complicated by tobacco use, you pay nothing for these counseling sessions, as long as you get them from a qualified doctor or another Medicare provider.

Every year, more people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer and smoking is the leading cause. Don’t become a statistic. Watch our video to learn more about Medicare’s benefits to help you quit.

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Uncategorized

COPD – Learn more, breathe better

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 16:31

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases that cause breathing problems, like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. People with COPD are more likely to have difficulty walking or climbing stairs, be unable to work, and have other chronic diseases, like diabetes or heart disease.

To help you detect COPD early, when treatment works best, Medicare Part B covers a lung cancer screening with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) once per year if you meet all of these conditions:

  • You’re 55-77.
  • You’re asymptomatic (you don’t have signs or symptoms of lung cancer).
  • You’re either a current smoker or have quit smoking in the last 15 years.
  • You have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years).
  • You get a written order from their doctor.

You pay nothing for this service if your doctor accepts assignment.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with moderate to severe COPD, Part B covers a pulmonary rehabilitation program. These services help you breathe better, make you stronger, and help you live more independently. As long as you have Part B and a referral from your doctor, you’re covered.

November is National COPD Awareness Month, and you can breathe easy knowing Medicare is here to help.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Saving money on health care costs: Extra Help

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 00:01

If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program. You might be able to get help paying your Medicare drug plan’s monthly premiums, yearly deductibles, and prescription copayments. Drug costs in 2018 for most people who qualify will be no more than $3.35 for each generic drug and $8.35 for each brand-name drug.

Even if you’re not sure you’d qualify, it’s worth filling out an application. Many people with Medicare may be eligible for Extra Help but don’t know it. You or a family member could be one of them.

It’s easy and free to apply for Extra Help. Here’s how:

Don’t wait—apply today to see if you qualify for some Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug costs.


Filed under: Open enrollment, Uncategorized

Know when to use antibiotics

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 00:01

It’s that time again—flu season! If you get sick, antibiotics won’t always help you. If you get a cold or flu, antibiotics could do more harm than good. That’s because these are viral infections, and antibiotics only cure bacterial infections. Every time you take antibiotics, they kill sensitive bacteria, but resistant germs can survive to grow and multiply. These resistant germs are called “antibiotic-resistant,” and they can lead to severe infections, hospitalizations, and death, especially among people over 65.

This week is Antibiotic Awareness Week. Here are 3 things you can do to make sure you’re using antibiotics the right way:

  1. Always talk to your doctor before taking an antibiotic to be sure it will treat the infection you have.
  1. Take antibiotics only to treat bacterial infections. It should be for only as long as your doctor prescribed to treat the infection, to reduce your risk of getting the infection again, or to reduce the risk to those around you.
  2. Never take antibiotics for a viral infection, like a cold, cough, or flu. Antibiotics won’t cure your virus, they won’t keep those around you from getting sick, and they won’t help you feel better. In fact, taking antibiotics when you have a virus may increase your risk of getting an antibiotic-resistant infection later.

Antibiotics won’t help you recover from a cold or flu, but you can keep yourself from catching the major flu viruses by getting your flu shot! It’s free for people with Medicare, once per flu season when given by doctors or other health care providers (like senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare.

Keep your body strong against germs and infections, and learn when antibiotics can work for you!


Filed under: Uncategorized

Caregivers need help, too

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 00:01

Are you caring for an aged, ill, or disabled family member? If so, you’re one of about 43.5 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness, disability, or frailty. Family caregivers provide an average of 24 hours of care per week – when you’re the caregiver, that can make it hard to care for yourself.

November is National Family Caregiver Month – a perfect opportunity to reach out for help if you’re caring for someone with Medicare. If you’re a caregiver, here are 3 things you can do this month to help you help your loved one:

  1. Visit Acl.gov to find programs and resources that can help support you.
  2. Make sure your loved one’s Medicare coverage still meets their needs. Medicare Open Enrollment is from now until December 7, and it’s important to take a few minutes to review coverage and pick a plan that works for your loved one.
  3. Find resources near you by visiting the Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator.

This month is also a perfect opportunity to make sure you are getting the care you need for yourself. If you or someone you’re caring for is uninsured, learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Medicare Open Enrollment: The Value of Convenience

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:01

When choosing a health plan, sometimes convenience matters. In addition to cost, coverage, and benefits, here are some other things you may want to consider as you compare Medicare options this year:

Doctor and hospital choice

Do your doctors accept the coverage? Do you pay less if you choose your hospital and health care providers from the plan’s network?

Pharmacy access

Is the pharmacy you use included in your drug plan’s network? Do they use e-prescribing? Can you get refills by mail? Remember that plan networks can change from year to year. If it’s important to you to stay with the same pharmacy, it’s worth checking to make sure they’ll still be in your plan’s network.

Travel

Maybe you travel a lot, or spend part of the year in a different state. If you do, see if your plan will cover you when you’re in all the states where you travel.

Quality

Ask yourself if you’re happy with your current plan and the coverage you have to meet your needs. Not all health care is created equal, and the doctors, hospitals and facilities you choose can impact your health. Look for plans with a 5‑star performance rating—the right expertise and care may help speed your recovery and improve your health outcomes.

Your time is valuable—and so is your health. Only you know what mix of coverage and convenience is most important to you and your family.

We’re working hard to make sure you have choices in the way you get your Medicare benefits. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to look at all of the health and drug plan options in your area.


Filed under: Open enrollment, Uncategorized

Hospice care: Supporting you and your family

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 11:48

There are many difficult decisions that come with a terminal illness, like considering whether hospice is right for you. The thought of hospice can be scary, but it’s important to learn about your options.

Medicare covers hospice care to help terminally ill patients spend the last moments of their lives with dignity and comfort, among loved ones. Hospice focuses on comfort or “palliative care,” not curing an illness.

  • Deciding whether hospice care is right for you can be a difficult choice to make, and it’s important to be informed about what hospice covers. Once you choose hospice care, your hospice benefit should cover everything you need.

Here are a few of the services hospice provides:

  • Care in your home. A specially-trained team of professionals and caregivers provide care for the “whole person,” including your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
  • Physical care, counseling, drugs, equipment, and supplies for the terminal illness and related conditions.
  • Support for family caregivers.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a good time to learn more about the care and support available to people who are terminally ill.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Fight lung cancer with Medicare

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 00:02

More men and women in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. More than 220,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. The best way to lower your chances of developing lung cancer is to quit smoking and stop using tobacco products.

If you use tobacco, Medicare Part B covers up to 8 face-to-face smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling visits in a 12-month period and a lung cancer screening once per year. You pay nothing for these services if your doctor accepts assignment. Watch our video to learn more about how Medicare can help you quit.

Want to learn more about how smoking affects your health or to find tips and resources to help you quit? Visit Smokefree.gov, or call the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Breathe easier knowing Medicare is here to help keep you healthy.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

Diabetes—Are you at risk?

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 00:01

Millions of Americans have or are at risk for diabetes, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The disease can lead to kidney failure, amputations, and blindness. November is American Diabetes Month, the perfect time for you to find out if you’re at risk and learn about the benefits Medicare covers if you have diabetes.

Many people with diabetes don’t know that they have it—fortunately, Medicare covers screening tests so you can find out if you do. If you’re at high risk for developing diabetes, Medicare covers up to 2 fasting blood glucose (blood sugar) tests each year. If your doctor accepts assignment, you pay nothing for these tests. You may be at high risk for diabetes if you’re obese, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of diabetes. Talk to your doctor to find out when you should get your free screening test.

If you have diabetes, Medicare covers many of your supplies, including test strips, monitors, and control solutions. In some cases, Medicare also covers therapeutic shoes if you have diabetic foot problems. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for these supplies.

Medicare also covers diabetes self-management training to help you learn how to better manage your diabetes. You can learn how to monitor your blood sugar, control your diet, exercise, and manage your prescriptions. Talk to your doctor about how this training can help you stay healthy and avoid serious complications. Get information about how Medicare can help you detect and manage diabetes by watching our video.

You can learn more about American Diabetes Month and how to prevent and treat this disease from the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org.

Take steps to fight diabetes today—talk to your doctor today about screening tests and what supplies and training you may need to stay healthy.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

Medicare Open Enrollment: Peace of Mind with Medicare Coverage

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:30

Having health insurance with covered benefits that you can count on can bring peace of mind. If you have Medicare, you get benefits like:

Medicare also covers a yearly “wellness visit”. This is a great chance to sit down with your doctor and talk about your needs — and address small health concerns before they become big ones. You can keep track of your preventive services and get reminders for them at MyMedicare.gov.

Most people with Medicare also have access to Medicare Advantage Plans. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will still get all the Medicare-covered services, but you may also get extra benefits like vision, hearing, dental coverage, prescription drugs, or extended coverage when you travel. You may be able to lower your out-of-pocket costs too. Because costs and coverage vary, it’s important to compare plans before choosing one.

Medicare Open Enrollment is the time to think about and decide what benefits you need to meet your health care needs. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to look at all of the health and drug plan options in your area.


Filed under: Open enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment: Be a smart shopper

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 00:01

It’s always a good idea to shop around. Cost is an important factor in any purchase, especially when it comes to health insurance, but it’s not the only thing to consider.

There may be dozens of Medicare plans in your area, all with different costs and levels of coverage. How much are each plan’s premiums and deductibles? How much will you pay for the benefits and services you’re likely to use? Is there a limit on what you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the year? If you’re currently in a plan, how does that plan compare to the other plans that are available? Thinking about these things will help you make a smart choice to get good value that meets your personal health care needs.

Prescription drug coverage is another thing to consider. Does your health plan include coverage for prescription drugs? Or will you need to find a separate Medicare Part D plan for drug coverage? How much will your prescriptions cost under each plan? Does the plan cover the drugs you take? Remember, everyone who reaches the Part D coverage gap (or “donut hole”) will benefit from a discount of 65% on covered brand-name drugs.

Only you can determine what mix of benefits and costs will work best with your needs and budget, but we can help. The Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to compare plans so you can pick a plan that’s right for you. After you’ve narrowed your options, call the plans you’re interested in to get more details about their benefits and services, or check out their websites.

You have until December 7, 2017 to review, compare, and join a 2018 plan.


Filed under: Open enrollment, Uncategorized

Love your bones

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 00:01

About 25% of women and 6% of men 65 and over will get osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones become weak and puts you at a greater risk for broken bones. In fact, many people don’t know they have it until they break a bone. However, there are steps you can take to make your bones stronger and healthier.

A bone mass measurement can help to see if you’re at risk for broken bones. This can help you find ways to strengthen your bones early and prevent breaks and fractures. Medicare covers this test at no cost if your doctor accepts assignment.

World Osteoporosis Day is October 20 – make this the day you show your bones some love. Talk to your doctor about how you can keep your bones healthy.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Medicare Open Enrollment: ready to choose a plan?

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 00:01

Medicare Open Enrollment starts today! Choosing a plan is an important and personal decision. Now’s the time to think about what matters to you, and find the Medicare plan that meets your needs. Here are some things to think about:

Does the plan cover the services you need?

Think about what services and benefits you’re likely to use in the coming year and find coverage that meets your needs. If you have other types of health or prescription drug coverage, make sure you understand how that coverage works with Medicare. And, if you travel a lot, does your plan cover you when you’re away from home?

No matter what plan you choose, you’ll get these benefits:

What does the plan cost?

The lowest-cost health plan option might not be the best choice for you—consider things like the cost of premiums and deductibles, how much you pay for hospital stays and doctor visits, and whether it’s important for you to have expenses balanced throughout the year.

Are the plan’s providers and rules convenient?

Your time is valuable. Where are the doctors’ offices? What are their hours? Which pharmacies can you use? Can you get prescriptions by mail? Do the doctors use electronic health records or prescribe electronically?

What plans perform the best?

Not all health care is created equal, and the doctors, hospitals and facilities you choose can affect your health. Open Enrollment is also a good time to ask yourself whether you’re truly satisfied with your medical care. Look for plans with a 5‑star performance rating—the right expertise and care can make a difference.

Remember that even if you’re happy with your current plan, these answers might change from year to year—so it’s important to take the time to compare. The Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to compare plans based on all of these factors, so you can choose a plan that meets your needs.


Filed under: Open enrollment, Uncategorized

Take care of your mental health

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 00:01

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. In the US, it affects 5% of people 12 and over. People with depression can suffer from many different symptoms, including:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Change in weight
  • Being more or less active than usual
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting a depression screening. Medicare covers this once per year and you pay nothing if your doctor accepts assignment.

Celebrate World Mental Health Day October 10th – talk to your doctor about how to take charge of your mental health.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Stop the flu before it starts

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 00:01

Fall is here, which means pumpkins, falling leaves, and the flu! Getting your free flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones this season.

Get your flu shot early and stay healthy! Flu viruses change from year to year, so it’s important to get a flu shot each flu season. It’s free for people with Medicare, once per flu season when it’s given by doctors or other health care providers (like senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare. Learn more about the flu and find a flu vaccine location near you at Flu.gov.

Get your free flu shot today!


Filed under: Uncategorized

Medicare Open Enrollment is coming soon—add it to your fall checklist

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:01

Just like the changing leaves, did you know that the fall also brings your chance to make changes to your Medicare coverage? Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15–December 7. It’s your chance to review your health care coverage and see if you need to make any changes for next year. Or, you may decide you’re happy with the plan you have now. If that’s the case, and the plan is still being offered next year, you don’t need to do anything.

Over the next few months, look aroundyou’ll find information about your Medicare benefits in these everyday places:

  • In the mail

Look through your mail carefullyyou may get important notices from your current plan, Medicare, or Social Security about changes to your coverage or any Extra Help you may get paying for prescription drugs.

Also, look for your new “Medicare & You” handbook. It has information about all of the Medicare plans in your area.

You’ll also start to see brochures from companies that offer Medicare health and drug plans. You may decide that a Medicare health plan is right for you. Just remember, be smart about protecting your personal information and your identityplans aren’t allowed to call or come to your home without an invitation from you.

  • On your computer

Comparing your plan choices is important. Our Medicare Plan Finder is ready with all of the 2018 health and drug plan cost information to make it as easy as possible. Enter the drugs you take to find out how you can lower your costs and review the plan’s ratings to compare plan quality. If you find a plan that meets your needs, you’ll be able to join the plan online starting October 15. If you haven’t used the Plan Finder before, check out our video to help you get started.

  • In your community

You may find a local eventsomewhere right around the corner, with health insurance counselors to help you, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Don’t miss the chance to get personalized help if you need it!


Filed under: Open enrollment, Uncategorized

Have you gotten your yearly mammogram?

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 00:01

Over 220,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, making it one of the most common cancers in women. Getting a yearly mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer early.

Mammograms are breast cancer screenings that can detect a lump up to 3 years before you or your doctor can feel it. This helps to detect breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable. All women between the ages of 50–74 should have a mammogram every 2 years—and Medicare covers mammograms at no cost if your doctor accepts assignment. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks and to schedule your next screening.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month—help fight breast cancer and get your yearly mammogram!


Filed under: Uncategorized

Go paperless—get your “Medicare & You” electronically!

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:01

Did you know that instead of getting a paper copy of your “Medicare & You” handbook every fall, you can sign up to get it electronically? You’ll not only be helping the environment, but you’ll be saving tax dollars too.

The eHandbook is the online version of your trusted “Medicare & You” handbook and has all the same information as your paper copy. The difference is that it’s updated throughout the year so you’ll always be looking at the most up-to-date information. It’s also searchable, so you can find the information you need quickly and easily.

To sign up for the electronic version of the “Medicare & You” handbook, visit Medicare.gov/gopaperless and follow 3 simple steps:

  1. Enter your Medicare information.
  2. Confirm that you no longer want your paper copy of “Medicare & You” and only want the electronic version.
  3. Each year, we’ll send you an email including a link to the new online Medicare & You. It’s instant, current, and convenient. You’ll no longer get a paper copy.

Help the environment and enjoy finding your Medicare information faster. Go paperless today!


Filed under: Uncategorized

Spot the signs of ovarian cancer

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 12:01

Each year, about 22,000 women in the U.S. get ovarian cancer. It’s also the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. Early diagnosis is the key to survival, and the key to early diagnosis is recognizing the symptoms of ovarian cancer:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urgency or frequency of urination

Women have unique health concerns, including certain types of cancers and high rates of chronic disease. Medicare covers many services to address these concerns, like a yearly “Wellness” visit, bone mass measurement, cervical cancer screenings, mammograms, and cardiovascular screenings. Medicare also covers other preventive services, so talk to your doctor about risk factors and to schedule your next screening.

Currently there’s no effective screening test for ovarian cancer, and it can be very hard to identify ovarian cancer early. The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer aren’t always clear and may be hard to recognize. It’s important to pay attention to your body and know what’s normal for you. If you notice any changes in your body that last for 2 weeks or longer and may be a sign or symptom of ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor and ask about possible causes. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional.

Make sure to ask your doctor about your level of risk for ovarian cancer at your “Welcome to Medicare” visit or your next yearly “Wellness” visit.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, a perfect time for you to learn more about this disease and know the symptoms. Visit the Centers for Disease Control for more information on ovarian cancer.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Protect your Medicare by protecting your Medicare number

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 00:01

Are you a bargain hunter? Always looking for the best deal or ready for the next best thing? If someone offered you a state-of-the-art arthritis kit and said Medicare would cover it, would you be interested? There are lots of benefits that come with aging, and discounts are one of them. But discounts and deals that sound too good to be true are one way that fraudsters may try to steal your identity.

When someone steals or unlawfully uses personal information like your Social Security number or your Medicare number, it’s called identity theft. The number of identity theft victims age 65 or older increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014. In fact, thieves consider your Medicare number and other protected health information more valuable than credit card information because people can reuse them to bill Medicare for services that you didn’t get. When people steal your identity and bill Medicare for items or services you didn’t get, it drives up costs for everyone.

At Medicare, we’re fighting health care fraud, waste, and abuse every day. An important part of that is preventing identity theft. Right now, your Medicare number is based on a Social Security number—yours or someone else’s. Starting in April 2018, we’re replacing the Social Security-based Medicare number with a new Medicare number, and will mail you a new Medicare card with your new number. You don’t have to do anything to get your new card and new number. And we’ll NEVER call you and ask for personal information for you to get your new card.

Remember, the first and best line of defense against fraud is you. You can help fight Medicare fraud in 2 simple steps:

  • Protect your Medicare number—treat it like you treat your credit card number.
  • Check your Medicare statement for errors, like equipment or services you never got.

Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud. And find out how to spot, report, and stop fraud, and protect yourself from identity theft with help from the Senior Medicare Patrol.


Filed under: Strengthening Medicare, Uncategorized

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