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Looking Toward the “Fourth Quarter”

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Tonight President Obama will lay out his fourth quarter plan for his last two years in the White House. Over the last few weeks, he has shared a couple of “SOTU spoilers,” traveling the country to discuss different aspects of what he will present in tonight’s speech.

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers we represent, here are a couple of areas we would like to see the President prioritize over the next two years.

1. Work with Congress to protect low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

The Medicare Qualified Individual program, which pays for low-income seniors’ Medicare Part B premiums, has been temporarily extended until March 31, 2015. Congress should make this program permanent and provide funding to help low-income seniors, particularly Hispanic older adults, gain access to the Qualified Individual program and other Medicare benefits as those who are elegible are most likely not to receive it.

Medicare fraud is also a pervasive issue among Latino seniors. They are systematically targeted due to the multiple barriers that keep them from accessing and understanding their benefits and rights as Medicare beneficiares. Congress should ensure that proper funding be secured to conduct culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education to this vulnerable, hard-to-reach population.

2. Urge Congress to strengthen and reauthorize the Older Americans Act.

The Older Americans Act is long overdue for reauthorization, and needs to be modernized to better serve the needs of the growing and diverse older adult population it serves, particularly low-income seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. The programs of the OAA are also extremely important in allowing older adults to age in dignity and the best possible health as it authorizes a wide variety of programs focused on health, nutrition, caregiver support, job training, and more.

3. Urge Congress to pass the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2014.

The bill would provide some sorely needed updates to this long-neglected program which provides subsistence level income for over 8 million older Americans and people with disabilities. A majority of those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are women, including two-thirds of those who receive SSI on the basis of age. Revising the current SSI program to match 2014 cost of living standards and expenses is not only common-sense, but critical to the success, health, and well-being of all seniors, and especially those in the Hispanic community.

4. Provide increased subsidized housing opportunities for Hispanic older adults and low-income seniors.

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Section 202 Program helps to expand the supply of affordable housing with supportive services for older adults.  It provides very low-income older adults with options that allow them to live independently but in an environment that provides support activities such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation. Additionally, the building and housing units have railings and other features which make them easily accessible for older adults. Many Hispanic older adults live in subsidized housing, but the wait lists are long, and many wait years before qualifying. Increased funding for these housing programs is needed to reduce the wait periods and allow more Hispanic older adults and low-income seniors to have a safe and affordable place to live.

5. Take action so more working families have access to family and medical paid leave.

Currently, the United States is lagging behind other developed countries on paid family and medical leave policies: it is the only developed nation that doesn’t require employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave. According to the White House, it is estimated that 43 million private-sector workers in the United States do not have access to any form of paid sick leave. We applaud President Obama’s announcement last week, which included a call to Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, but there is more to be done to ensure that all working American families have access to the time off they need to take care of themselves or a family member.

NHCOA will be live tweeting tonight during the State of the Union, which starts at 9 pm ET. For live streaming and more information about tonight’s speech, visit wh.gov/SOTU.

What I am thankful for on MLK Day

Washington, DC NHCOA Leaders class of 2012

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to remember Dr. King’s legacy through acts of service. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people are participating in a wide range of projects that strengthen communities, promote leadership, and provide solutions to social issues. As we strive to achieve the democracy and social justice Dr. King envisioned for our country, MLK Day serves a reminder that servant leadership and volunteerism lie at the heart of who we are: a society that believes in giving back, sharing the best of our talents, and empowering others to be the best they can be.

Service and volunteerism at the core of our Hispanic Aging Network, a growing group of individuals, groups, and organizations that carry out our mission of improving the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, in different areas of the county. The commitment and dedication of this intergenerational, multicultural, and bilingual network is the lifeblood that enhances and inspires our work in Washington and in the field. Their volunteerism helps to:

Today I would like to offer my gratitude to those who share the best of themselves—not only on MLK Day, but every day of the year— to improve the lives of others who need encouragement, support, and aide.

¡Muchas gracias!

Día Once: ¡Luchemos Contra el Fraude al Medicare en el 2015!

En los próximos 12 días estaremos compartiendo escritos diarios para motivarles a pensar en la salud y el bienestar suyos, de sus padres y abuelos y de toda la familia durante en las fiestas de fin de año. Algunos escritos ofrecerán consejos cortos, mientras que otros llamarán a la reflexión. Esperamos que estas palabras lo inspiren y que las comparta con sus amigos, vecinos y seres queridos. 

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El fraude en el cuidado de salud es uno de los mayores tipo de fraude afectando a los adultos mayores, especialmente nuestros abuelitos. Esto es a causa de múltiples factores como poco dominio del idioma, aislamiento y miedo a las autoridades hacen que los adultos mayores hispanos sean blancos vulnerables, por lo que entender lo qué es el fraude al Medicare y cómo prevenirlo es tan importante para nuestros padres y abuelos.

A través del programa National Hispanic SMP, NHCOA ha desarrollado una una serie de videos educativos cortos para adultos mayores hispanos y sus cuidadores sobre el fraude al Medicare. Esta serie forma parte de un catálogo de recursos disponibles en español para ayudar a adultos mayores, sus familiares y cuidadores a proteger, detectar y reportar el fraude al Medicare.

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Durante esta época navideña, compartamos el regalo de la información y la educación con nuestros queridos padres y abuelos para que puedan unirse a la lucha contra el fraude al Medicare y protegerse de personas malintencionadas.

Si sospecha que un ser querido ha sido víctima del fraude al Medicare, puede llamar al National Hispanic SMP para una consulta gratuita en español al 1-866-488-7379. 

Day Eleven: Join the Fight Against Medicare Fraud in 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.   

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Health care fraud is one of the most pervasive types of fraud targeting seniors, especially Hispanic older adults. Multiple barriers such as limited English proficiency, isolation, and fear of authority make Latino seniors vulnerable targets for unscrupulous scammers, which is why understanding what Medicare fraud is and how to prevent it is so important for our parents and grandparents.

Through the National Hispanic SMP program, NHCOA has developed a series of short educational videos for Hispanic older adults and caregivers that cover Medicare fraud basics. These videos are part of a catalog of Spanish language resources available to help Latino seniors, their families, and caregivers protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud.

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During the holiday season, let’s share the gift of awareness and education with our beloved parents and grandparents so they can join the fight against Medicare fraud and protect themselves from scammers and con artists.

If you think your loved one has been a victim of Medicare fraud, they can call the National Hispanic SMP for a free consultation in Spanish at 1-866-488-7379.

Medicare Fraud Outreach in the Latino Community is ALL about Partnerships

What makes the Latino community so hard to reach and why is it so hard to fight Medicare fraud in the community?

It’s because this is a unique community. There are cultural and linguist challenges that the community faces. Many people in the community have very low levels of education and low levels of health literacy, and they don’t know how to navigate the system and don’t know what to ask. Sometimes they don’t even know there are programs that they can use and many are very trusting. It’s especially difficult for older Latinos who are also low income, because it’s hard for them to turn down something they get for free, even if they’re not supposed to get it.

But it’s not a lost cause. There are some very effective ways to reach the Latino community and it’s all about thinking in terms of two key words: personalization, and partnerships. Older Latino adults don’t want to be talked down to. They want to feel a personal connection with people and they want to be able to trust that the person they are speaking with is giving them the right information.

That’s why is so important to do to where they are: the places of worship, the community centers, the beauty parlors; anywhere that the community happens to be. Go where they are and talk to them.  And this is where partnerships are important: a partnership with local community leaders and a partnership with members of the media so that they can help you get to the members of the community, and achieve that most important partnership of all: a partnership with older Latinos.

First of all, the Spanish language itself is not monolithic.

Don’t assume that the words that are spoken in the Latino community in Los Angeles, for instance, are the same as the Latino community in Miami or New York. Cultural competency goes beyond language. It’s not enough to be able to speak the language, but rather requires a good understanding of the community. The same word may mean something completely different depending on where members of the community are from. This is where having a relationship with local community leaders becomes very important.

We can’t go into different communities and say the same thing. We have to be mindful of the differences.

Sure, there are many commonalities, such as the importance of family and working together and we definitely have to build on that, but working with community leaders allows us to work with those who know the community best. Community-based organizations and places of worship are also good places to work with to reach older Latinos. If we explain to them about Medicare fraud and how it affects the community, they will help us. We all care about the community and we can work together to prevent Medicare fraud. Another key partnership is with members of the media.

Both the mainstream media and Latino community are important, but the Spanish-language media is considered part of the community. Older Latino adults look at many members of the Latino community as honest people they respect to give them the news and to help the community. At NHCOA, we have found that inviting a reporter or news anchor to a community event has been very effective. Whenever that happens, we get a lot of people to come and listen, because these members of the media are well known and well respected in the community.

Establishing relationships with members of the Latino media is a very good and very effective way to inform the community about Medicare fraud and why they should care.

Members of the Latino press are a good channel for information.  When we work with members of the Latino press, the reporter has a buy-in. This is a community of partnerships, of relationships, of friendships, and if we ask everyone to talk about Medicare fraud prevention, we are creating momentum. If we could get a television news personality to take the flag on Medicare fraud prevention, the campaign would be very successful. Television programs and Spanish-language community newspapers are good outlets, but probably the most effective media outlet in the Latino community is the use of radio, and it’s a medium we don’t use nearly enough.

Radio is a big part of an older Latino’s daily life, and it’s about putting together a PSA and sending it out to stations. It’s about going on local radio programs, talking about the importance of Medicare fraud and giving listeners the opportunity to call-in and ask questions about it. Local radio programs have been a very effective way to reach the community. Whenever we’ve used radio, the phones have been ringing off the hook with people seeking answers. We’ve also found that it’s not a one-shot deal.

Repetition is the name of the game here.

It’s not about going on a radio show and leaving town to never come back, but rather to come on as many times as possible. Repetition, repetition, repetition. A very effective method is finding a news hook. Pay attention to the news. When Medicare scammers are arrested, for instance, that’s a good opportunity to talk about Medicare fraud and show older Latinos why it’s an issue they should care about.

We’ve also found that talking about other topics doesn’t mean that the issue of Medicare fraud won’t come up.

For example, at NHCOA we found that when we talked about the Affordable Care Act when it was rolling out, we had many questions about Medicare. Scammers don’t take a day off, and they were telling Latino seniors that under ACA, they had to change coverage, which is not true and that was causing a lot of confusion. By talking about ACA, we were able to clear up a lot of questions older Latinos had about Medicare and Medicare fraud. It’s also a good idea not to forget that because family is so important in the Latino community, making sure the message of Medicare fraud reaches members of an older Latino’s family is very important.

Additionally, making sure to include caregivers in any messaging is also essential, as it is oftentimes the caregivers who are making decisions for the older Latinos. When you create partnerships with community leaders, community-based organizations and members of the media, you create an effective way to talk to older Latinos, their families, and caregivers about Medicare fraud in a caring, respectful way and they feel they have a stake in the issue and would help make sure it doesn’t happen to them.

5 Common Challenges to Conducting Medicare Fraud Outreach Among Hispanic Older Adults

In order to get Hispanic older adults to report Medicare fraud, we must first be able to reach them effectively. Detection is the best way for seniors to protect themselves from scams and fraud. This is why breaking away at, and tearing down barriers, that prevent them from receiving reliable, trustworthy information regarding Medicare fraud is key.

Here is a look at 5 common challenges or barriers to conducting effective Medicare fraud outreach among Hispanic older adults and tips to address each one. 

Language barriers

Most Hispanic older adults speak more Spanish than English. They rely on their children, grandchildren, or friends to understand documents or other information they may encounter on a daily basis. The inability to fully understand causes many to feel frustrated and give up. While Latino seniors may be more comfortable speaking Spanish, they may encounter difficulties reading and writing. This is due to low levels of education and the reliance on jargon, slang and “Spanglish” (the combined usage of Spanish and English words to communicate). Therefore, even if the information is written in Spanish, many might have a hard time understanding certain wording and phrases they are not familiar with.

Reaching Hispanic older adults through a variety of culturally and linguistically appropriate communication channels is critical to eliminate the language barrier (i.e., local Spanish language radio PSAs, local Spanish language TV interviews). 

Misinformation

The propagation of myths within the community is frequent and wide-scaled, ranging from old wives tales to urban legends. Older adults, who are mostly homebound and have little contact with the outside world, are especially susceptible to blending facts and information with myths and taboos. And, even if they receive correct information, it can be difficult and confusing to retain. As we age, being introduced to new concepts and facts can be overwhelming, especially topics such as Medicare, which is complex in nature.

Constant reinforcement is key to fighting misinformation and is best achieved through one-on-one and group discussions in culturally and linguistically appropriate settings (i.e., community centers and places of worship).

Difficulty Navigating the Medicare System

These days technology plays a big role in our  healthcare system, especially the enrollment process. For an older adult who is used to handwritten paperwork and face-to-face interaction, it is difficult — and seemingly impossible to them— to use the internet and virtual assistance to process an application, enroll or report fraud. While online services are great and helpful to many, Latino seniors are a generation behind in terms of technology and access.

For Hispanic older adults to use the Internet to access and manage their Medicare accounts, in-person bilingual assistance is critical. 

Isolation

Seniors may not always go to a senior center or community center. In fact, if they do not have caregivers or family to take them, or go with them. They may not leave their home at all. As they reach their golden years, most of them stop driving and cannot walk, bike, or take public transportation as easily as when they were younger. This causes isolation and for the most part prevents them from receiving valuable information about Medicare and Medicare fraud. Even when they attend a senior center or community center, most times the seniors do not have the opportunity to attend informative events or fairs due to lack of transportation.

Sending culturally sensitive bilingual volunteers to make home visits or go to places Hispanic older adults frequent (places of worship, grocery stores, etc) can help bridge the isolation gap many Latino seniors experience as they age. 

 

The National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), an off-shoot of the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) initiative, is the only Medicare fraud prevention program that uses culturally and linguistically appropriate tools and resources to close the gap in Medicare fraud education among Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. The NHSMP program was launched in Rio Grande Valley, Texas in 2005 and expanded into southern Florida in mid-2011. NHSMP also provides technical assistance to organizations working with older adult populations, so they can more effectively expand their reach to Hispanic seniors, while meeting the demands of our increasingly diverse older adult population. 

How to Refocus Your Hispanic Volunteer Recruitment

Volunteer recruitment can be challenging, especially when it’s within a diverse community as language, cultural nuances, and even gender, greatly impact these efforts. The Hispanic community is no different. While Latinos are volunteer-oriented, many Hispanic older adults don’t relate to, and perhaps don’t understand, the concept of volunteerism. Rather, they “help”, “assist”, and “support.” They also don’t relate to the concept of “signing up” to volunteer because giving time to help one another is more than second nature — it’s part of their DNA.

Therefore, targeted strategies are needed to effectively recruit ad retain Latino volunteers, especially Hispanic older adults. That is NHCOA, with the support of the Administration on Aging (AoA), developed the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP). The NHSMP is an off-shoot of the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) initiative, which empowers seniors through increased awareness and understanding of healthcare programs. Because Medicare fraud fraud is so prevalent in the Hispanic community, one of the functions of the NHSMP is to help state SMPs across the country connect with, recruit, retain, and support Latino volunteers. While the needs and challenges may vary from state to state, there are five main concepts that any organization seeking to recruit Hispanic volunteers should take into account:

1. Understanding the cultural context of volunteerism for Latinos

A Hispanic volunteer doesn’t consider him or herself a volunteer. Growing up, Latinos are taught that it is polite and correct to help others, including neighbors and community members who are in need. For example, carpooling to the supermarket because the neighbor’s car broke down, giving a donation to a family who doesn’t have enough money to pay for their loved one’s funeral expenses, or a Hispanic senior who offer to take care of her neighbor’s children when they have a scheduling conflict. Essentially, volunteerism is about stepping up and taking action to ensure that the harmony and balance of the community is preserved.

 

2. Family ties (familismo) are the foundation of Hispanic volunteerism

The reason why Latinos tend to be aware of, and focus on meeting the needs of their communities is because they consider them as extended families. This also includes places of worship and employment. For example, Hispanic worship groups and ministries or company-sponsored soccer teams. This tendency stems from the fact that many Latinos grow up with extended family (although they don’t refer to these relative as such), particularly grandparents, aunts, and even family friends.

 

3. Latinos connect to causes through people, not issues

Because of the family-centered values that are central to the Hispanic community, the best way to engage Latinos in volunteer efforts is to explain how their efforts will help community members rather than how it will impact the issue. For example:

With your help, we can protect ourselves and our grandparents from Medicare fraud.

Sign up to join the fight against Medicare fraud in your community. 

Giving weight and importance to how the issue affects people will help you connect directly with potential Hispanic volunteers, as well as make them feel that you understand them and empathize with them.

 

4. Influence, trust, and respect are the building blocks of volunteer outreach among Hispanics

In order for a volunteer recruitment strategy to be effective among Latino seniors, it will take time and effort. It requires relationship-building skills and patience so good rapport and eventually, trust, can be established. Partnering with, or being vouched for by a well-known, respected, and influential community figure will help speed the process up. Because of factors including language barriers and social isolation, engaging with Hispanic older adults can be difficult at first. However, once a relationship is established in which they feel useful, helpful, and appreciated, they will your cause’s biggest fan and supporter.

 

5. Appreciation goes a long way

Hispanic older adults, just like all older Americans, offer a wealth of wisdom, experience, and knowledge, which they are eager to share and pass along. Allowing Latino senior volunteers to be actively engaged will not only strengthen their ties to your cause, but their feedback will help improve your reach and influence within the Hispanic community. One way to encourage engagement is by showing Hispanic older adults appreciation for their volunteerism. Small gestures, such as certificates, pizza party, or even a hug and warm ‘thank you’, can mean the world to them. Beyond feeling appreciated, they will treat you and your cause as their extended family— and that brand of loyalty is priceless.

For more tips on recruiting and retaining Latino volunteers, click here.

 

The National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), an off-shoot of the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) initiative, is the only Medicare fraud prevention program that uses culturally and linguistically appropriate tools and resources to close the gap in Medicare fraud education among Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. The NHSMP program was launched in Rio Grande Valley, Texas in 2005 and expanded into southern Florida in mid-2011. NHSMP also provides technical assistance to organizations working with older adult populations, so they can more effectively expand their reach to Hispanic seniors, while meeting the demands of our increasingly diverse older adult population.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Medicare Fraud Red Flags to Avoid

Data shows that the populations most vulnerable to fraud are those that face multiple barriers, such as poverty, low levels of education, little or no English skills, and a lack of access to culturally and linguistically competent resources. These factors apply to Hispanic older adults and result in them being less likely to become aware of, or not know what to do, if they are targeted for health care fraud. Everyone — Medicare beneficiary or not — should care about this because at the individual level, health care fraud can cause people to receive lower quality care.

On a larger scale fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare and other forms of health insurance is a drain on health care consumers: billions of dollars are lost each year due to health care fraud. This drives up the cost health care and health insurance for everyone. If you are a caregiver or live with your parents or grandparents, here are 7 red flags that you should look out for:

Be aware of door-to-door sales persons or telemarketers. RED FLAG: Being insistently and repeatedly offered services or products your loved one doesn’t need. (Scammers tend to target people with arthritis, diabetes or sleeping problems.)

Be aware of the services and products Medicare covers. RED FLAG: Providers that charge co-pays on clinical lab tests or Medicare-covered preventive services such as PAP smears, health screenings, or flu shots. (Medicare covers certain preventive and screening services.)

Be aware of high-priced services or diagnostic tests. RED FLAG: Pressure and scare tactics from a service provider. (If you don’t take this test, you will lose your benefits.)

Medicare doesn’t sell anything. Period. RED FLAG: A “Medicare sales person” who calls your house, sends an e-mail, or knocks on your door.

Medicare never contacts its beneficiaries to confirm or verify their information. RED FLAG: Receiving a call, house visit, or e-mail asking to confirm or verify Medicare information. (Medicare cards should be treated the same way as a credit card or Social Security number.)

Be aware of “free” products or services — nothing is free. (This includes meals and transportation.) RED FLAG: Sales persons offering a “free” product or service in exchange for your loved one’s Medicare number.

Be aware of anyone other than a physician or medical professional asking to review your loved ones’ medical records or recommend services. RED FLAG: Only your loved one’s doctor should have access to and review his or her records and make medical recommendations.

And, the golden rule:

Always review your loved one’s billing Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) and Part D Explanation of Benefits for incorrect charges. This could mean being charged for a service or product that wasn’t received; being billed twice for the same service or product; being charged for services or products that were not ordered by the beneficiary’s doctor.

If you suspect your loved one is a victim of Medicare fraud, contact the National Hispanic SMP for free assistance in Spanish: 1-866-488-7379.

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).

How the Affordable Care Act Affects Your Medicare

Tomorrow, October 1st, will usher in a new era of health insurance in the U.S. with the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace is the result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was passed in 2010 and requires most Americans to have health insurance. Through the Marketplace, consumers can find quality health coverage that meets their unique needs.

As with any major change, the ACA has spurred many questions from people, both with coverage and without coverage. Some seniors, who may already be covered by Medicare, have expressed confusion by how the ACA will impact their coverage. As a result, Medicare.gov – the official U.S. Government site for Medicare – created a list of the top five things to know about the ACA for those with Medicare:

  1. Your Medicare coverage is protected. Medicare isn’t part of the Health Insurance Marketplace established by ACA, so you don’t have to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage.  No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll still have the same benefits and security you have now. You don’t need to do anything with the Marketplace during Open Enrollment.
  1. You get more preventive services, for less. Medicare now covers certain preventive services, like mammograms or colonoscopies, without charging you for the Part B coinsurance or deductible. You also can get a free yearly “Wellness” visit.
  2. You can save money on brand-name drugs. If you’re in the donut hole, you’ll also get a 50% discount when buying Part D-covered brand-name prescription drugs. The discount is applied automatically at the counter of your pharmacy—you don’t have to do anything to get it. The donut hole will be closed completely by 2020.
  3. Your doctor gets more support. With new initiatives to support care coordination, your doctor may get additional resources to make sure that your treatments are consistent.
  4. The ACA ensures the protection of Medicare for years to come. The life of the Medicare Trust fund will be extended to at least 2029—a 12-year extension due to reductions in waste, fraud and abuse, and Medicare costs, which will provide you with future savings on your premiums and coinsurance.

The ACA is important to the wellbeing of Americans, and will transform health care from a privilege into a basic human right. However, some scammers are taking advantage of seniors’ confusion about how the ACA affects their Medicare, resulting in a new crop of Medicare fraud.

The National Hispanic Council on Aging’s (NHCOA) National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP) can help older adults and their loved ones during this time of uncertainty. The NHSMP is the only Medicare fraud prevention program that uses culturally and linguistically appropriate tools and resources to close the gap in Medicare fraud education among Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. NHSMP also provides technical assistance to organizations working with older adult populations, so they can more effectively expand their reach to Hispanic seniors, while meeting the demands of our increasingly diverse older adult population. For more information, please visit the NHSMP website.