Entries by mgl

Concerned about your blood pressure? Medicare can help.

It’s difficult to detect high blood pressure. High blood pressure (also called “hypertension”) usually doesn’t have any warning signs until it causes more serious health issues, like heart attack and heart disease, stroke, eye damage, kidney disease, and vascular dementia.
Preventing & managing high blood pressure
While there are certain risk factors for high blood pressure that you can’t control, like age and family history, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent and manage high blood pressure.
Eat a healthy diet that’s low in salt and alcohol
Exercise regularly and manage stress
Maintain a healthy weight
Don’t smoke
Here’s how Medicare can help
Medicare covers:
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Learn more about preventing and managing high blood pressure at CDC.gov.

Medicare helps protect you from viral hepatitis

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Complications from hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, kill 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. Viral hepatitis transmission happens when people come in contact with a contaminated object, like a used needle, where the virus can live for up to 7 days. Hepatitis B can range from being a mild illness, lasting a few weeks to a serious long-term illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.
Fortunately, Medicare can help keep you protected from Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C, which are the most common types of viral hepatitis strains in the United States:
Generally, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) covers Hepatitis A shots when medically necessary.
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers Hepatitis B shots, which are usually 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 viral hepatitis prevention and treatment.

3 tips for people in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program

If you’re among the 7.5 million people in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program, Medicare providers aren’t allowed to bill you for services and items Medicare covers, including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. If a provider asks you to pay, that’s against the law.If you get a bill for these charges:
Tell your provider or the debt collector that you’re in the QMB Program and can’t be charged for Medicare deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. If you’ve already made payments on a bill for services and items Medicare covers, you have the right to a refund.Note: To make sure your provider knows you’re in the QMB Program, show both your Medicare and Medicaid or QMB card each time you get care. You can also give your provider a copy of your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN). Your MSN will show you’re in the QMB Program and shouldn’t be billed. Log in to your MyMedicare.gov account at any time to view your MSN or sign up to get your MSNs electronically. 
If your provider won’t stop billing you, call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. We can confirm that you’re in the QMB Program. We can also ask your provider to stop billing you, and refund any payments you’ve already made. 
If you have a problem with a debt collector, 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 debt collection 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.

Stroke Awareness: What are the signs?

More than 800,000 strokes happen each year in the United States. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.
A stroke is caused by blocked blood flow to the brain and can affect a person’s speech, movement, memory, and more. It’s important to know the signs of a stroke and get help quickly. Some of the warning signs include:
Weakness in the face, arm, or leg
Difficulty speaking
Vision loss
Brief loss of consciousness
If you think you or a loved one is having a stroke, call 911 immediately and note the time when the first symptoms appeared.
Anyone can have a stroke at any age, but almost three-quarters of all strokes happen in people over 65. Certain factors can increase your chances of having a stroke, like smoking and drinking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and bad eating habits. Up to 80% of strokes may be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle. Taking advantage of these Medicare preventive services can help:
In most cases, you’ll pay nothing for these services.
If you’re new to Medicare, you can get a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit where your doctor will give you information about free screenings and preventive services available to you.
Talk to your doctor about ways you can take small steps now to improve your health. For more details about Medicare’s coverage of preventive services, get a copy of “Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services.”
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It’s a great time to learn about the signs of stroke and the Medicare preventive services that can help you prevent stroke.

May is Osteoporosis Month—are your bones strong?

Are you doing what you can to keep your bones strong? Each year, more Americans are diagnosed with osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to weaken and become more likely to break. Since you can’t feel your bones getting weaker, you may not even know that you have this “silent” disease until you suffer a broken bone.
Osteoporosis month is the perfect time to learn the facts, so you can protect your bones and keep them strong:
Osteoporosis isn’t a normal part of aging.
1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over 50 will develop osteoporosis.
Half of all adults over 50 are at risk for breaking a bone.
You may be able to make your bones stronger.
Talk to your doctor about getting a bone mass measurement, which is the best way to know if you have or are at risk for osteoporosis. If you’re at risk, Medicare covers this test at least once every 24 months when ordered by your doctor or other qualified provider.
May is National Osteoporosis Month. Learn more from the National Osteoporosis Foundation about your risk for osteoporosis and how to prevent and treat it.

Medicare is here for your mental health

Medicare cares about your mental health and offers services to support you. Mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety, can happen at any time to anyone. So, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing:
Thoughts of ending your life
Sad, empty, or hopeless feelings
A lack of energy
Trouble concentrating
Trouble sleeping
Little interest in things you used to enjoy
Weight loss or loss of appetite
Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
Loss of self-worth
Social withdrawal and isolation
Medicare helps pay for mental health services through Part A and Part B. If you have Part A and you’re an inpatient in a general or psychiatric hospital, Medicare helps pay for therapy, lab tests, and other services. If you have Part B, Medicare helps cover mental health visits you would get from a doctor and services you generally get outside of a hospital. These include one depression screening per year, one alcohol misuse screening per year, opioid use disorder treatment services, and other services.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and Medicare wants you to feel safe and supported. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so visit Medicare.gov for more information about your mental health coverage.

5 things to know about the Medicare appeals process

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If you disagree with a coverage or payment decision made by your Medicare health or prescription drug plan, you can file an appeal. Here are 5 key things to know about the Medicare appeals process:
You can file an appeal if Medicare or your plan denies one of these:
Your request to get a health care service, item, or drug you think should be covered, provided, or continued.
Your request for payment for a health care service, item, or drug you already got.
Your request to change the amount you pay for a health care service, item or drug.

If you decide to file an appeal:
Ask your doctor, health care provider, or supplier for any information that may help your case.
Contact your plan for information on your appeal rights.

The Medicare appeals process has 5 levels. If you disagree with the decision made at any level, you can generally go to the next one. You’ll get instructions in each decision letter on how to move to the next level.
You have the right to a fast appeals process if you think your Medicare-covered services are ending too soon. Ask your provider for more information on how to file a fast appeal.
You might need to send us some documents. If you do:
Make sure your Medicare Number is on all of them.
Keep a copy of everything you send for your records.

Get help and more information on filing an appeal.

Going electronic is easy with Medicare online resources

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Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, is a great time to think about ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Medicare’s online resources make reducing your use of paper easier.  
Switch to the electronic version of the “Medicare & You” handbook
If you have an eReader (like an iPad, Kindle Fire, Surface, or Galaxy Tab), you can download a free digital version of “Medicare & You” and other Medicare publications to your eReader and take them with you on-the-go.
Don’t have an eReader? You can still sign up to get a paperless version. If you sign up, 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 fall, you’ll get an email linking you to the online handbook. The online version of the handbook contains all the same information as the printed version. .
Get your “Medicare Summary Notices” electronically (also called “eMSNs”)
For anyone with Original Medicare Part A or Part B, eMSNs contain the same information as paper MSNs. You can sign up for eMSNs by creating or logging into your Medicare account. If you choose to get eMSNs, you won’t get printed copies of your MSNs in the mail every quarter. Instead, we’ll send you an email each month when an eMSN is available in your account.
Sign up today to get your electronic Medicare information quickly and securely — and reduce your carbon footprint for Earth Day.