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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.

 

At risk for diabetes? Take this quick test.

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 00:01

Diabetes affects over 30 million people in the U.S.—are you one of them? Tuesday, March 27 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. Knowing your risk is the first step. 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.

Need help with your Medicare costs?

Thu, 03/22/2018 - 00:01

If you have Medicare and you’re facing challenges with paying for health care, you may be eligible for programs that can help you save money on medical and drug costs.

People with limited income and resources may qualify for Medicaid—a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs.

Even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, these 4 Medicare Savings Programs may be able to help you pay your Medicare premiums and other 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 for 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 you may be eligible for another savings program 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.

Medicare helps you get smart about kidney disease

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 00:01

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, Medicare is here to help you make informed decisions about your care.

If you have Stage IV chronic kidney disease that will usually require dialysis or a kidney transplant, Medicare covers up to 6 kidney disease education sessions that teach you how to take the best possible care of your kidneys. Sessions include topics like how to prevent complications of kidney disease, what to eat and drink, and what options you have if your kidneys get worse, like dialysis and kidney transplants.

If you or a loved one has advanced kidney problems requiring dialysis, often known as End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD), finding the right care can be a challenge. Dialysis centers can vary in the quality of care and services they provide, so it’s important to understand the differences in dialysis centers in your area before you decide where to go for care. If you’re already on dialysis, it’s also important to understand the quality of care that your dialysis center delivers. Medicare’s Dialysis Facility Compare lets you easily search for dialysis centers, compare them side by side, and find the right one for you. The information includes feedback from patients – you can see how dialysis patients respond to a survey that asked questions about their dialysis center, their kidney doctor, and the center’s staff.

March is National Kidney Month, so there’s no better time to get smart about kidney disease. Learn more about kidney disease, Dialysis Facility Compare, and Medicare-covered kidney services to be sure you’re making educated choices about your kidney health.

Healthy Eating Solutions – Medicare can help!

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 00:01

As American lifestyles have gotten busier, the demand for food that can be purchased and eaten quickly—known as fast food–has gained speed, too. With today’s hectic schedules, it can be hard to find time to prepare a healthy meal or exercise. If you need an eating and activity plan that will work for you, Medicare can help.

Medicare covers medical nutrition therapy (MNT) services for people with diabetes or kidney disease. MNT services may include an initial nutrition and lifestyle assessment, one-on-one nutrition counseling, and follow-up visits to check on your progress. Find out if you qualify for these services.

During 2007-2010, American adults consumed an average of 11% of their total daily calories from fast food. More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and frequently eating fast food has been shown to contribute to weight gain.

Carrying extra body weight can lead to serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.

If you need help getting started, MyPlate MyWins offers tips on how to make small changes to improve your diet and find healthy food choices wherever your day may take you. Also, the resources at Eat Right® can help you improve your eating style while reducing food waste.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month by making good food choices and adding regular exercise to your lifestyle. Small changes can bring good rewards.

5 ways to become an informed Medicare consumer

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 00:01

Each day, you make important choices about your finances, health, privacy, and more.

During National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 4–8, 2018, non-profit organizations and government agencies can help you take advantage of your rights and make better-informed choices.

Here are 5 things you can do to become an informed Medicare consumer:

  1. Know your rights. As a person with Medicare, you have certain rights and protections designed to help protect you and make sure you get the health care services the law says you can get.
  2. Protect your identity. Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes. Keep information like your Social Security Number, bank account numbers and Medicare Number safe. To help protect you from identity fraud, starting in April 2018, Medicare will mail new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare. Your new card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you. Get more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft.
  3. Help fight Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud takes money from the Medicare program each year, which means higher health care costs for you. Learn how to report fraud.
  4. Get involved with other seniors with the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). The SMP educates and empowers people with Medicare to take an active role in detecting and preventing health care fraud and abuse.
  5. Make informed Medicare choices. Each year during the fall Open Enrollment Period (October 15–December 7), review your plan to make sure it will meet your needs for the next year. If you’re not satisfied with your current plan, you can switch during the Open Enrollment Period.

Visit NCPW.gov to learn more about the campaign, see which agencies and organizations are able to help you, and to find out if there are any activities happening in your area. Also, check out our videos for tips on preventing Medicare fraud.

5 ways to lower your risk of colon cancer

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 00:03

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people 50 and older.

The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 50. There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer—that’s why it’s so important to get screened. 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.

March is 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

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

Spring into action with an ounce of prevention

Thu, 03/01/2018 - 00:01

Spring is a season of new beginnings and growth, bringing us longer hours of daylight, sprouting tulips, and warmer weather. It’s the perfect time to renew your commitment to better health, and practice preventive care. Preventive services are valuable to your wellbeing, because they can help you keep from getting sick and find health problems early, when treatment works best. Taking advantage of them is a crucial step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and every little bit helps.

When you have Medicare, you have access to a variety of preventive tests and screenings, most at no cost to you. If you’re new to Medicare, we cover a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit during your first 12 months of Part B coverage. This visit includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health and education and counseling about preventive services, including certain screenings, shots, and referrals for other care, if needed.

If you’ve had Part B for longer than 12 months, you can get a yearly wellness visit to develop or update a personalized prevention plan based on your current health and risk factors. In addition to these important wellness visits, Medicare covers screening tests for diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and obesity management, just to name a few. Check out our complete list of Medicare-covered preventive services and watch our preventive benefits video.

As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Start this spring by practicing preventive care, so you can you stay healthy and live longer.

 

Donors save lives

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 00:01

Each year, about 8,000 people die waiting for an organ transplant, and just one donor can save and heal up to 75 lives through organ and tissue donation. Today, there are more than 120,000 patients waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and many more who need cornea, tissue, bone marrow, blood, and platelet donations.

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 donor – can donate one kidney, one lung, or a portion of the liver, pancreas, or intestines.

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.

National Donor Day is February 14th. Give the gift of life this Valentine’s Day, and sign up to be an organ donor.