Reading Help

Day Four: Get your Medicare ready for 2015!

Over the next 12 days, we will be sharing daily posts to motivate you to think about your health and well-being during the holiday season. Some posts will focus on handy tips, while others will offer a reflexion. We hope these words will inspire you and we invite you to share them with friends, neighbors and family.

12 Dias-25

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period ended 8 days ago, and many of you may have changed health insurance or drug plans. If so, here is a short check list of recommendations from Medicare to ensure you make the most of your 2015 coverage:

1. Make sure you have your current Medicare card. This is particularly important if you changed either your Medicare health insurance plan or drug plan (or both) for 2015. If you haven’t received a new card or welcome packet by January 1, 2015 contact your plan provider for assistance. If you need to fill a prescription right away, find out how to fill a prescription without your card.

If you changed from a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) back to Original Medicare, use your red, white, and blue Medicare card when you go to the doctor. Also, you should request a new card if yours is lost, damaged, or the information needs to be updated.

Medicare Card

2. Budget for next year’s Medicare Part B deductible.

Keep in mind that you have Medicare Part B and are in Original Medicare, you’ll have to meet your deductible before your Medicare coverage pays for services and supplies. Next year, the Medicare Part B deductible will be $147, the same as it was in 2014. When you plan your health care budget, take into account the increased cost of your doctor visits during the time it will take to cover your deductible. Learn more about Medicare costs in 2015.

3.  Schedule appointments to get any preventive tests or screenings.

Medicare covers all sorts of preventive services to keep you healthy, as well as screenings to check for health problems. Many of these services are covered each year for free. Ask your doctor when you should schedule your yearly wellness visit in addition to other screenings you might need. Talk to your doctor about these covered preventive services to find out what’s right for your health needs. Also, if you are computer savvy or have a loved one who can assist you, use the MyMedicare.gov web application to create a preventive services calendar to keep track of your visits.

4. Make sure your drug or health plan meet your needs.

Sometimes sudden life situations can significantly change your needs. If you realize that your drug or health insurance plan no longer suit your specific needs, there is a way to change your coverage without having to wait until the next Open Enrollment. At any time during the year, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that has a 5-star rating.

Plan ratings are based on member surveys, information from doctors and health care providers, and other sources. The plan ratings are scores that show the quality and performance of the plan, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest-rated plans. You can make this change once per calendar year. Click here to find 5-star health and drug plans in your area.

Remember that the most up-to-date information on Medicare is at www.medicare.gov.

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Tomorrow!

Fall is an exciting time of the year — hayrides, crisp weather, and the holiday season is around the corner. As we swap out our t-shirts for pull-overs in preparation for the colder months ahead, the Fall season is also an opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to reflect on their current health insurance and assess whether or not they should explore other coverage options.
The status of our health can change significant from one year to the next, as can our life situation. For this reason, Medicare offers several options for its beneficiaries to choose that can best suit their needs and preferences. While having a variety of options is necessary given that each person’s condition is unique, it can also be confusing and overwhelming.
Let’s take a look at what Medicare Open Enrollment is and how to take advantage of this yearly opportunity Medicare offers its beneficiaries.

Take advantage of the Medicare Open Enrollment period.

This month review your Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan by answering the following questions:
  • Does this plan still meet my Medicare and healthcare needs?
  • Has my health condition changed much since last year?
  • Have I moved to another state or city?
  • Will my plan be available for 2015?
Also, if you already have a Medicare Part D plan, you should look back over your 2014 plan and make an enrollment decision for your coverage for 2015. Should you stay with your existing coverage or make a change? If you make no decision, you will remain in the same plan as you elected in 2014. If you are satisfied that your current plan will meet their needs for next year, you don’t need to do anything. If you don’t have Part D, consider if you should enroll for 2015.

Medicare Open Enrollment is only once a year.

The Medicare Open Enrollment period is October 15 through December 7. During this time period you can review your health care coverage and decide if you need to make any changes for your coverage next year. Conversely, if you are happy with your current plan and it is still being offered next year, you don’t need to do anything.
Medicare consists of four parts: A, B, C and D. The first two parts is what is referred to as Original Medicare (Parts A and B). Original Medicare is offered directly through Medicare and includes hospital insurance (Part A) and health insurance (Part B). Part C is similar coverage, the key difference being that it is offered through private companies. Therefore, a Medicare beneficiary either has Original Medicare or Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) to cover their hospitalization and health insurance needs. During Open Enrollment a beneficiary can choose to switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or move from one Advantage plan to another.
Finally, there is Part D, which is a voluntary program that subsidizes the costs of prescription drugs and prescription drug insurance premiums for Medicare beneficiaries. This keeps seniors healthier and ultimately reduces costs to the Medicare system.

Enrollment in Medicare Part D is voluntary.

While Medicare Part D is a voluntary program, the downside to not enrolling is that you may be subject to a life-time premium penalty when you do decide to enroll in a Part D plan. However, the cost-saving benefit and access to the proper medicine if and when you need them are far greater than the penalty.

What if I like my 2014 coverage? What do I do now?

If you are satisfied that your current plan will meet your needs for next year, you do not need to do anything. If you miss the 2014 open enrollment period, your next chance to enroll is October 2015 for coverage in January 2016.

For more information, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

It’s Time: Medicare Open Enrollment Begins Today!

Medicare-Open-Enrollment-Logo_-NHSMPIt’s time: Medicare Open Enrollment begins today! Medicare Open Enrollment is the time of year when beneficiaries can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for the following year. Each year Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15-December 7. The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) encourages you to consider reviewing your Medicare drug or health care plan, and/or assist your loved ones in reviewing theirs. You can use the materials provided in our Medicare Open Enrollment toolkit to assist you in reviewing your options in order to find the coverage that best meets your needs. However, if you and your loved ones are satisfied with your current health plan, no action or change is required.

Medicare is health insurance for people 65 years or older. The U.S. Federal government provides this health care service from revenue collected through payroll taxes. If you’ve paid into Social Security and Medicare for 10 years as an employee, you are most likely eligible for Medicare benefits.

Following the three C’s is a good criterion to keep in mind when reviewing current plan and making the decision whether or not to make changes.

  • Cost: Evaluate your current health care costs and find the coverage that works with your budget.
  • Coverage: It’s important that the services and care you will need in the coming year are covered by the plan you choose.
  • Convenience: Make sure the plan you choose fits your lifestyle.

Be informed. Making changes to a Medicare plan is a personal choice based on each beneficiary’s health needs and preferences. No one should pressure beneficiaries to make a decision that they are not comfortable with. In fact, soliciting or pressuring seniors to switch or change their Medicare drug or health care plan is against the law.

Medicare fraud usually heightens during open enrollment because scammers often prey on older adults’ uncertainty of how to navigate the system during open enrollment. Furthermore, in light of the overlapping open enrollments for Medicare and the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace, more fraud is expected this year than in the past.

Consequently, NHCOA also encourages Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers to be aware of potential scams during Medicare Open Enrollment and join the efforts of the National Hispanic SMP program. The NHSMP is dedicated to helping Latino seniors across the country protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud. To learn more about the National Hispanic SMP, visit NHCOA’s website:www.nhcoa.org/medicare or call 1-866-488-7379.

The best way to compare and review Medicare plans is by using the Medicare Plan Finder, an online comparison tool available at www.Medicare.gov, or by calling toll-free 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633 4227).

NHMSP: The Day has Arrived – Medicare Open Enrollment Ends Today

Having access to adequate health care is critical for seniors. This is why every year Medicare beneficiaries are given a period of time to review their health care needs and ensure their coverage meets these needs. This period is called Medicare Open Enrollment, and ends today, December 7.

No matter what stage a beneficiary is in the decision process, one thing to always keep in mind is that we always have to be aware for Medicare fraud. Open Enrollment is a prime opportunity for scammers to target Medicare beneficiaries as they may be bombarded with lots of information. While comparing and reviewing Medicare health care and drug plans, keep the following in mind:

  • No one is required to make changes to his or her Medicare plan. If beneficiaries like their current plan, they don’t have to take further action. Their plan will simply continue in 2013.
  • Medicare numbers are private and should be treated like a credit card. Medicare will never ask for a beneficiary’s number, therefore any calls, emails, flyers, etc. that request that information is fraudulent and should be reported.
  • Nothing is free, there is always a hidden cost. Don’t accept “free” products or services from anyone.

Visit www.nhcoa.org/medicare for more information about Medicare fraud and how to get involved with the National Hispanic Seniors Medicare Patrol (NHSMP), or call us at 1-866-488-7379. Also remember you still have a day to take advantage of Medicare Open Enrollment. Call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov to make an informed decision using the Medicare Plan Finder.

NHCOA is a proud partner of the Administration on Aging in the fight against Medicare fraud. The National Hispanic SMP works to detect, protect, and report Medicare fraud within the Hispanic community. For more information, visit www.nhcoa.org/medicare

 

NHSMP: We’re All Guilty of This

It’s not a crime but you know you’ve been guilty of this at least some point in your life: waiting until the last minute. Many of us have waited too long to complete a project. Sometimes we miss deadlines.  However, an important deadline is approaching that Medicare beneficiaries should take advantage of.

The Medicare Open Enrollment season ends tomorrow, December 7. This is the period of time Medicare recipients have to change plans, add a plan or choose a plan that fits your needs. You might have waited until now to start thinking about your Medicare options for next year or you might have completed enrollment in October.

If you haven’t been able to look at options be extra alert and don’t fall into a Medicare scam. Medicare scammers are active all year round. But, as the Open Enrollment deadline rapidly approaches, fraud activity could be high this week as scammers try to confuse, intimidate, bombard, and pressure seniors into making uninformed decisions regarding their health.

Remember that nothing is free. Don’t accept “free” items or services from anyone. Also, don’t share your Medicare number or Social Security number and always treat it like a credit card.

Visit www.medicare.gov to compare plans using the Medicare Plan Finder. Also, visit www.nhcoa.org/medicare for more information about Medicare fraud and how to get involved with the National Hispanic Seniors Medicare Patrol (NHSMP), or call us at 1-866-488-7379.

NHCOA is a proud partner of the Administration on Aging in the fight against Medicare fraud. The National Hispanic SMP works to detect, protect, and report Medicare fraud within the Hispanic community. For more information, visit www.nhcoa.org/medicare

It’s time! Medicare Open enrollment ends December 7!

The National Hispanic SMP urges beneficiaries to be aware of Medicare fraud during Medicare Open Enrollment season

Medicare Open Enrollment is period of time between October 15 and December 7 when Medicare beneficiaries can evaluate their health care needs and review plan options to determine whether they should keep or change their health care or drug plan for 2013. Given that the Open Enrollment period is quickly approaching, let’s review some common questions regarding Medicare Open Enrollment:

Do I have to enroll in a different plan? 

No, Medicare Open Enrollment is completely voluntary. If you do nothing before December 7, your Medicare health care or drug plan coverage will remain the same through 2013.

Why would I look at other plans? 

Each year plans change what they cost and what they cover, which is why it is helpful for beneficiaries to evaluate their health needs and compare plans. When thinking about your health needs, some things to consider include:

  • Do you have a new medical issue that isn’t covered by your current plan?
  • Has your budget changed and your current co-pay,deductible, or prescription drug costs are too expensive?

Where should I go to compare Medicare plans and what should I look for? 

Visit the Medicare Plan Finder on the Medicare website to find a plan that fits your needs. You should look out for the three Cs:

  • Cost: Evaluate your current health care costs and find the coverage that works with your budget.
  • Coverage: It’s important that the services and care you will need in the coming year are covered by the plan you choose.
  • Convenience: Make sure the plan you choose fits your lifestyle.

What if I live in a state impacted by super storm Sandy and I can’t complete my enrollment information before the deadline? 

Medicare beneficiaries that are experiencing special circumstances due to the recent storm can enroll after the deadline. Benefits for your new plan will begin the following month. For example, if you enroll in a new plan on January 10, your 2013 plan will begin February 1. For more information, call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1- 877-486-2048.

What should I do if I think I’m being targeted for Medicare fraud? 

Medicare Open Enrollment is a prime time for scammers targeting seniors. Always be vigilant and remember to treat your Medicare number like a credit card number. Don’t share this information with anyone! We all have to part play in protecting, detecting, and reporting Medicare fraud, and the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP) is available to help. If you want to report Medicare fraud or learn how to become an NHSMP volunteer leader and fight Medicare fraud, call 1-866-488-7379.

NHCOA is a proud partner of the Administration on Aging in the fight against Medicare fraud. The National Hispanic SMP works to detect, protect, and report Medicare fraud within the Hispanic community. For more information, visit www.nhcoa.org/medicare

 

ABCs of Medicare: What is Part C?

Note: It’s Time! Medicare Open Enrollment is the time of the year beneficiaries have to review plan options and ask questions about different plans. This period runs from October 15-December 7, 2012. The National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP) encourages you to consider reviewing your Medicare drug or health care plan, but it is not mandatory. For more information, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Medicare is broken down into four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. Nobody needs all four plans to have a complete Medicare package. This post will describe the basics of Part C plans. Read about Part A and Part B, and check back for other posts in this series about Part D.

What is Part C?
Part C is also known as “Medicare Advantage.”

What does Part C cover?
A Medicare Advantage Plan is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide the beneficiary Part A and Part B (hospital and medical/preventive services) benefits. There are different type of Medicare Advantage plans. Click here to read more about Part C coverage from Medicare.gov.

How much does Part C cost?
Each month beneficiaries usually pay a premium for Medicare Part C, in addition to a Part B premium.

Want to know about about the differences between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage? Click here to read more from Medicare.gov.

Remember that beneficiaries have until December 7 to make any changes to their Medicare health care or drug plan. While Medicare Open Enrollment is optional, it is helpful to compare your existing plans to others to ensure that you are getting the best coverage with most convenience at the best cost. 

Medicare Open Enrollment: Be a smart shopper

Click here for original post on the Medicare Blog.

By: Jonathan Blum, CMS Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Medicare

In today’s world, we’re all a little more conscious of costs. Maybe we clip a few more coupons, eat out less, or compare ads to find the best price on something before we buy. Cost is an important factor in any purchase, and health care is no different. We know you want to get the best value possible from your health care coverage. Wouldn’t most of us like to get more and pay less for things that are important to us?

The good news is the health care law has gone a long way toward lowering overall costs in the Medicare program. Average premiums for prescription drug coverage and Medicare health plans will stay around the same in 2013. People who are in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage gap (“donut hole”) will continue to save money in 2013 with big discounts on brand-name prescription drugs. Since the health care law was enacted in 2010, more than 5.5 million people with Medicare have saved nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs in the donut hole.

But you still need to make smart choices to get good value out of your health insurance.

There may be dozens of Medicare plans in your area, all with different costs and levels of coverage. Ask yourself:

  • How much are each plan’s premiums and deductibles?
  • How much will I pay for the benefits and services I’m likely to use?
  • Is there a limit on what I’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the year?
  • Does the plan cover the drugs I take?
  • How much will my prescriptions cost under each plan?

Only you can determine what mix of benefits and costs will work best with your needs and budget. Shopping around can make a huge difference, and we want to help. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to look at all of the health and drug plan options in your area.If you still need help comparing, call 1‑800‑MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Whether it’s groceries, health insurance, phone plans or anything else, we all want the best value for our dollar. Make sure you have the most up-to-date information out there and be a smart shopper during Medicare Open Enrollment – which ends on December 7.
.

ABCs of Medicare: What is Part A?

Note: It’s Time! Medicare Open Enrollment is the time of the year beneficiaries have to review plan options and ask questions about different plans. This period runs from October 15-December 7, 2012. The National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP) encourages you to consider reviewing your Medicare drug or health care plan, but it is not mandatory. For more information, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).


Medicare is broken down into four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. Nobody needs all four plans to have a complete Medicare package. This post will describe the basics of Part A plans. Check back for other posts in this series about Part B, Part C and Part D.

What is Part A?
Part A is also known as “hospital insurance”.

What does Part A cover?
Part A covers most things needed for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing care, home health care and hospice care.

How much does Part A cost?
Most people receive Part A coverage premium-free but it can be purchased if the Medicare recipient hasn’t contributed a certain amount through Social Security payroll taxes. A deductible for hospital services will be paid for each benefit period. Daily co-payments for some services may apply for Part A coverage. More about Part A costs from Medicare.gov.

Use Medicare’s Check Enrollment tool to learn more about your current plan. To start the process you will need your:

  1. Zip code
  2. Medicare number
  3. last name
  4. effective month and year that Part A or B coverage began for you (this would be the month and year you turned 65 if you signed up on time.) Read this article to find out when your coverage started.
  5. date of birth

Remember that beneficiaries have until December 7 to make any changes to their Medicare health care or drug plan. While Medicare Open Enrollment is optional, it is helpful to compare your existing plans to others to ensure that you are getting the best coverage with most convenience at the best cost.

Medicare Open Enrollment: What is Medicare?

Note: It’s Time! Medicare Open Enrollment is the time of the year beneficiaries have to review plan options and ask questions about different plans. This period runs from October 15-December 7, 2012. NHCOA encourages you to consider reviewing your Medicare drug or health care plan, but it is not mandatory. For more information, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Medicare is health insurance for people 65 years or older. The US Federal government provides this healthcare service from revenue collected through payroll taxes. If you’ve paid into Social Security and Medicare for 10 years as an employee, you are most likely eligible for Medicare benefits. Medicare has four parts, but you don’t need all four parts to receive complete coverage:

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. This part of Medicare covers hospital stays, hospice care and some home health care.

Medicare Part B is medical insurance. This part of Medicare covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventative services.

Medicare Part C is Medicare Advantage Plan. Medicare Advantage Plans are health plans offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare. These types of plans must offer coverage equal to Part A and Part B coverage. Additionally, most Medicare Advantage Plans also offer prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. If you have Original Medicare (Part A and B) it is worthwhile to look into Part D plans to see if your prescriptions are covered. Part D plans are offered through private companies that have been approved by Medicare. If you have Part C (Medicare Advantage Plan) you might already get prescription coverage.