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The official blog for the U.S. Medicare program. For more information, please visit www.medicare.gov
Updated: 16 hours 26 min ago

Celebrate Earth Day—Go Paperless!

Sat, 04/22/2017 - 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!

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.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Get help with your Medicare costs

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 07:24

If you’re among the many Americans facing challenges with their health care costs, there may be ways you can save money if you have Medicare.

If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for Medicaid—a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs. Even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, there are other programs that may help you pay for your Medicare premiums and other costs.

Medicare has 4 savings programs that may help with your health care costs:

  1. Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program
  2. Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program
  3. Qualifying Individual (QI) Program
  4. Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI) Program

If you qualify for Medicaid or one of the Medicare Savings Programs above, you’ll also get Extra Help paying for your prescription drugs automatically. Extra Help is a Medicare program that helps people with limited income or resources pay Medicare prescription drug costs, like premiums, deductibles and coinsurance. If you don’t automatically qualify Extra Help, you can apply online at SSA.gov.

It’s important to call or fill out an application if you think you could qualify for savings—even if your income or resources are higher than the amounts listed on Medicare.gov. These amounts change yearly, and there may be another savings program you’re eligible for depending on your situation. To find out if you’re eligible for savings through one of these programs, call your state Medicaid program. Also, watch our video to find out more ways you can save money on your Medicare coverage.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Take care of all of you!

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 00:01

This April 7, we celebrate World Health Day, a day that reminds us that to live a healthy lifestyle, we need to take care of ourselves. Medicare helps you do that with many preventive services and programs to monitor your physical health.

But, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. The focus of this year’s World Health Day is depression, so we’re making an effort to spread the word about all of the mental health resources available to people with Medicare.

Mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Medicare helps cover outpatient and inpatient mental health care, as well as partial hospitalization and screenings for depression. If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage, you may also have coverage for medications to help treat a mental health condition.

Taking care of your health is about more than just your physical health—it’s about taking care of all of you!


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

Think before you drink

Sat, 04/01/2017 - 00:01

A lot of changes happen with age, like pain, loss of mobility, and loneliness. Sometimes, this can lead to alcohol misuse. As you get older, you may become more sensitive to alcohol, and your regular drinking habits could become a problem.

Medicare covers alcohol misuse screening & counseling to provide counseling for people who misuse alcohol. Older adults who drink may be at a higher risk for falls or other injuries. Alcohol can also make some health problems worse, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. It can also cause dangerous interactions when mixed with prescription or over-the-counter medications. 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 now is the perfect time to get help and stay healthy.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

At risk for diabetes? Take this quick test.

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 00:01

Diabetes affects 29 million people in the U.S.—are you one of them? Tuesday, March 28 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, and it’s a great time to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a disease where blood glucose levels are higher than normal. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults.

Many people with diabetes don’t know that they have it, but Medicare covers screening tests so you can find out if you do.

If you have diabetes, Medicare covers many of your supplies, including insulin, test strips, monitors, lancets 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.

Take control of your health—talk to your doctor today about screening tests and what supplies and training may help you stay healthy.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

Know your rights and protections

Sun, 03/05/2017 - 00:01

Did you know that Medicare works hard to protect your rights? Knowing about these safeguards will go a long way to help keep you, your privacy, and your identity safe. It’s National Consumer Protection Week, so this is a great time to learn about your Medicare rights.

No matter how you get your Medicare, you have rights and protections that:

  • Protect you when you get health care.
  • Make sure you get the health care services that the law says you can get.
  • Protect you against unethical practices.
  • Protect your privacy.

You can also file a complaint if you have a concern about the quality of care or other services you get from a Medicare provider. If you believe your care wasn’t covered but should’ve been, then you can file an appeal. The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman can help you with your rights and protections.

Be a smart and safe health care consumer; understand your rights and protections.

 


Filed under: Uncategorized

5 ways you can prevent colorectal cancer

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 00:03

Did you know that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States? Make sure you’re doing everything you can to prevent it, including getting help from Medicare.

Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older. It’s National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so this is a great time to do 5 things to stop this cancer in its tracks.

  1. Get screened
  2. Exercise
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
  4. Don’t drink too much alcohol
  5. Don’t smoke

You don’t have to do it alone—Medicare covers colorectal cancer screenings to help you detect and prevent colorectal cancer, and you’ll pay nothing for most of them.

Do what you can so you’re not one of the 140,000 Americans diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, and let Medicare help.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

Get smart about kidney disease

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 00:02

Did you know that 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease? Major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and being 60 or older.

The best way to fight kidney disease is to find it before trouble starts. But, if you’ve already been diagnosed, ask your doctor if you’re eligible for Medicare’s kidney education sessions. Medicare’s kidney education can teach you how to take the best possible care of your kidneys and give you information you need to make informed decisions about your care. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers up to 6 kidney disease education sessions, if you have Stage IV chronic kidney disease. Session topics include:

  1. How to manage other diseases related to your kidney disease, like diabetes and high blood pressure
  2. How to prevent complications of kidney disease
  3. How your kidneys work
  4. What to eat and drink
  5. How your prescription drugs work
  6. What options you have if your kidneys get worse, like dialysis and kidney transplants

March is National Kidney Month. Learn more about kidney disease, and Medicare-covered kidney services to be sure you’re making educated choices about your kidney health.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

Want a healthier lifestyle? Medicare can help.

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 00:01

“Health is wealth,” the old saying goes. However, the wealth of food choices in the U.S. doesn’t always contribute to the health of Americans. In fact, 69% of adults are considered overweight or obese. Finding little time to exercise or prepare balanced meals, and using cars instead of walking has contributed to this epidemic.

An unhealthy body weight can increase your risk of having serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

With all the information available on eating healthy and exercising, it’s sometimes hard to come up with a plan that will work for you. Not sure how to get started? Medicare can help.

Medicare covers obesity screening and counseling. These behavioral counseling sessions can help you lose weight if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.

Making small changes and celebrating along the way can help you achieve goals and maintain your success. MyPlate MyWins offers tools and tips for finding a healthy eating style. And, the resources at Eat right® can help you increase your nutrition know-how, shop wiser at the grocery store, and prepare healthy meals for your family.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month by adding healthy eating and regular exercise to your lifestyle.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

Save lives—become a donor

Tue, 02/14/2017 - 00:01

Right now, there are over 118,000 people waiting for life-saving organ transplants, and many more who need cornea, tissue, bone marrow, blood, and platelet donations. Registering as a donor means you can help save up to 8 lives through organ donations and help countless others.

There are 2 ways to become a donor:

  1. Deceased organ donors—can donate both kidneys, liver, both lungs, heart, pancreas, and intestines.
  2. Living organ donors—can donate one kidney, one lung, or a portion of the liver, pancreas, or intestine.

Over 80% of people on the transplant list need a kidney transplant, usually due to permanent kidney failure or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Medicare covers kidney transplants for both the person getting the transplant and the donor. If you’re getting the transplant, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor services. You pay nothing if you’re the living donor.

Celebrate National Donor Day on February 14th by giving the gift of life—sign up to become an organ donor today.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

This Valentine’s Day, give your heart the gift of love

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 00:01

Although popular love songs might tell you otherwise, a broken heart can’t kill you—but heart disease can. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, taking about 610,000 lives each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

You might not be able to avoid Cupid’s arrow, but you can take steps to lower your risks and help prevent heart disease. Start by scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss whether you’re at risk for heart disease.

Medicare covers a cardiovascular disease screening at no cost to you every 5 years. The screening includes tests to help detect heart disease early and measures cholesterol, blood fat (lipids), and triglyceride levels.

If you and your doctor discover that you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke, there are steps you can take to help prevent these conditions. You might be able to make lifestyle changes (like changing your diet and increasing your activity level or exercising more often) to lower your cholesterol and stay healthy.

February is American Heart month, so start showing your heart love by visiting the Million Hearts® Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Resource Center. Million Hearts is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by the end of this year. The resource center was developed in partnership with EatingWell magazine, and features lower sodium, heart-healthy recipes and family-friendly meal plans to help manage sodium intake, a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease. All the recipes include nutritional facts and average cost per serving information. Use the search and filter options to quickly find the right meal for yourself and your family.

While you’re celebrating family and friends this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to show your heart some love, too.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized

3 tips for people in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 12:00

If you’re among the 7 million Americans enrolled in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program, providers aren’t allowed to bill you for medical services and items that Medicare covers. This means you can’t be billed for Medicare deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.

Here are 3 tips if you get a bill for these charges:

  1. Tell the provider or debt collector that you have QMB and can’t be charged for Medicare deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Show your provider your Medicaid or QMB card every time you get medical services or items. If you already made payments on a bill for services and items Medicare covers, you have the right to a refund.
  2. If the medical provider won’t stop billing you, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. The agent can confirm that you have QMB. Medicare can also ask the provider to stop improper billing, and refund any incorrect payments you made.
  3. If you have a problem with debt collection, you can send a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) online or call the CFPB toll-free at (855) 411-2372. TTY users can call (855) 729-2372. CFPB will forward your complaint to the company and work to get you a response from them. Find out about your rights when responding to a debt collector or learn how to dispute an error on your credit report.

Remember, being in QMB means that you don’t pay Medicare deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. If a provider asks you to pay, that’s illegal. We’re here to help.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Keep an eye out for glaucoma

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 00:01

Are you at a high risk of getting glaucoma? Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of vision—usually side vision—by damaging the optic nerve, which sends information from your eyes to your brain.

Fortunately, you can help prevent vision loss by finding and treating problems early—and Medicare can help. We cover a glaucoma screening once every 12 months for people at high risk for glaucoma. You’re considered at high risk if you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions:

  • Do you have diabetes or a family history of glaucoma?
  • Are you African American and 50 or older?
  • Are you Hispanic American and 65 or older?

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month—the perfect time to check on your eye health.

Watch our glaucoma awareness video to learn more.


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized