The Medicare Blog

(Provided by Medicare.gov)

Stop the flu before it stops you

Flu season is back, which means it’s time to protect yourself and loved ones by getting a free flu shot.

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 you get it by doctors or other health care providers (like senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare.

National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 3–9. Don’t let the flu stop you from enjoying the holidays. Get your free flu shot today!


Filed under: Medicare coverage, Uncategorized


Wear your red ribbon – Support World AIDS Day

Did you know that 40,000 people are diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. each year? Of the 1.1 million people currently living with HIV in the U.S., 1 in 7 don’t even know they have it. Medicare covers HIV screenings for people with Medicare 15-65 years old who ask for the test, people younger than 15 or older than 65 who are at increased risk, and pregnant women.

HIV is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. Early testing and diagnosis play key roles in reducing the spread of the disease, extending life expectancy, and cutting costs of care. Thanks to better treatments, many people with HIV and AIDS in the U.S. are living longer. Testing is an important first step in getting HIV-infected people the medical care and support they need to improve their health and help them maintain safer behaviors. To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of HIV, check out the CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool.

Visit CDC.gov to learn more about their Act Against AIDS campaign. To find an HIV test site, visit Gettested.cdc.gov, or text your zip code to “KNOWIT” (566948).

December 1st is World AIDS Day, so wear your red ribbon and together we can raise awareness and fight HIV.


Filed under: Uncategorized


Medicare Open Enrollment: time’s running out

Medicare Open Enrollment ends next week on December 7. If you’ve been thinking about changing your Medicare coverage, now is the time to act. You may already know you have choices in how you get Medicare hospital, medical, and prescription drug coverage, but did you know you can get help online? By answering just a few questions about your health care needs, you can see what Medicare choices might be best for you. Then use the Medicare Plan Finder to see the plan options in your area and decide the best mix of benefits and costs that meet your needs and budget.

In these last few days of Medicare Open Enrollment, take a minute to review your options. If you like your current health care coverage and it’s still available for 2018, you don’t need to do anything. But if you’re thinking about making any changes, now’s the time to act.


Filed under: Open enrollment, Uncategorized


Make life easier: set up automatic premium payments

Most Medicare Prescription Drug Plans charge a monthly fee that varies by plan. This fee is called a premium. You pay this in addition to the Medicare Part B premium. Did you know that you can have this premium automatically deducted from your monthly Social Security payment? Get peace of mind knowing that bills are paid on time each month.

All you need to do is contact your Medicare Part D drug plan (not Social Security). Your first deduction will usually take 3 months to start, and 3 months of premiums will likely be deducted at once so make sure you have enough in your Social Security payment to cover this. After that, only one premium will be deducted each month. You may also see a delay in premiums being withheld if you switch plans. If you want to stop premium deductions and get billed directly, just let your Medicare drug plan know.

Take the worry and guesswork out of when to pay your premium bills, and contact your drug plan today. Rest assured knowing that your payments will be deducted as scheduled—on time, every time.


Filed under: Open enrollment, Uncategorized


It’s always time to quit tobacco

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

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

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

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

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

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