Each day, you make important choices about your finances, health, privacy, and more. It’s National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), a time that non-profit organizations and government agencies can help you protect yourself and prevent fraud by taking advantage of your rights and making better, more informed choices.
Here are some things you can do to prevent Medicare fraud and become an informed Medicare consumer:
- Know your rights: As a person with Medicare, you have certain rights and protections to help protect you and make sure you get the health care services the law says you can get.
- 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. Get more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft.
- 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 Medicare fraud.
- Join 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.
- 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 with the Medicare Plan Finder.
Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s NCPW page 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.
Each day, 20 people die while waiting for an organ transplant. With National Donor Day around the corner, keep in mind that just one person can save up to 8 lives through organ and tissue donation.
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.
There are nearly 120,000 patients waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and many more who need cornea, tissue, bone marrow, blood, and platelet donations. As a living organ donor, you can donate one kidney, one lung, or a portion of the liver, pancreas, or intestines.
Celebrate National Donor Day on February 14 by giving the gift of life. Sign up to become an organ donor today.
Most people get Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) when they turn 65. If you didn’t sign up for Part B then, now’s the time to decide if you want to enroll.
During Medicare’s General Enrollment Period (January 1–March 31), you can enroll in Part B and your coverage will start July 1.
Deciding to enroll in Part B is an important decision. It depends on the type of coverage you have now. It’s also important to think about the Part B late enrollment penalty—this lifetime penalty gets added to your monthly Part B premium, and it goes up the longer you wait to sign up. Find out if you should get Part B based on your situation.
If you only have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance), adding Part B can help you get the most out of your Medicare coverage. Part B helps cover:
- Services from doctors and other health care providers
- Outpatient care
- Durable medical equipment (like wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, and other equipment)
- Many preventive services (like screenings, shots or vaccines, and yearly “Wellness” visits)
And, if you have Part B, you have more options to get additional coverage, like prescription drugs, vision, hearing, dental, and more.
Signing up for Part B is easy—apply by March 31
There are 3 ways you can sign up:
- Fill out a short form, and send it to your local Social Security office.
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778.
- Contact your local Social Security office.
If you get benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, contact your local RRB office to sign up for Part B.
Get the most out of your Medicare coverage—sign up for Part B now!
Did you know that if you’re unhappy with your Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C), you have options? Each year, there’s a Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 – March 31. During this time, if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan and want to change your health plan, you can do one of these:
If you switch Medicare Advantage Plans or go back to Original Medicare with or without a Medicare drug plan, your new coverage will start the first day of the month after your new plan gets your request for coverage. Keep in mind, if you go back to Original Medicare now, you may not be able to buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy.
The Medicare Plan Finder can help you find, compare, and enroll in a new Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare drug plan in your area. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for help. TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period isn’t for people who already have Original Medicare.
It’s important to understand and be confident in your Medicare coverage choices. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan and want to change your plan, check out your options today. Remember, this Medicare Advantage Plan Open Enrollment Period ends March 31.
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you know it covers a lot of items and services, like prescription drugs, diabetic test supplies, cardiovascular screenings, and hospital visits. But, what should you do if your plan won’t cost an item or service you need?
You have the right to ask your Medicare Advantage Plan to provide or pay for items or services you think should be covered, provided, or continued. To resolve these differences with your plan, learn how to file an appeal.
Here are 4 tips to help you get started:
- Get help: If you want help filing an appeal, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or appoint a representative. Your representative could be a family member, friend, advocate, attorney, doctor, or someone else who will act on your behalf.
- Gather information: Ask your doctor, other health care providers, or supplier for any information that may help your case.
- Keep copies: Be sure to keep a copy of everything you send to your plan as part of your appeal.
- Start the process: Follow the directions in your plan’s initial denial notice and plan materials. You have 60 days from the date of the coverage determination. If you miss the deadline, you must provide a reason for filing late. See what information to include in your written request.
Once you start the appeals process, you can disagree with the decision made at any level of the process and can generally go to next level. Learn more about appeals in a Medicare Advantage Plan.