Over the next few months, look around—you’ll find information about your Medicare benefits in these everyday places:
Look through your mail carefully—you may get important notices from your current plan, Medicare, or Social Security about changes to your coverage or any Extra Help you may get paying for prescription drugs.
Also, look for your new “Medicare & You” handbook. It has information about all of the Medicare plans in your area.
You’ll also start to see brochures from companies that offer Medicare health and drug plans. You may decide that a Medicare health plan is right for you. Just remember, be smart about protecting your personal information and your identity—plans aren’t allowed to call or come to your home without an invitation from you.
Comparing your plan choices is important. Our Medicare Plan Finder is ready with all of the 2018 health and drug plan cost information to make it as easy as possible. Enter the drugs you take to find out how you can lower your costs and review the plan’s ratings to compare plan quality. If you find a plan that meets your needs, you’ll be able to join the plan online starting October 15. If you haven’t used the Plan Finder before, check out our video to help you get started.
You may find a local event—somewhere right around the corner, with health insurance counselors to help you, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Don’t miss the chance to get personalized help if you need it!
Mammograms are breast cancer screenings that can detect a lump up to 3 years before you or your doctor can feel it. This helps to detect breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable. All women between the ages of 50–74 should have a mammogram every 2 years—and Medicare covers mammograms at no cost if your doctor accepts assignment. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks and to schedule your next screening.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month—help fight breast cancer and get your yearly mammogram!
The eHandbook is the online version of your trusted “Medicare & You” handbook and has all the same information as your paper copy. The difference is that it’s updated throughout the year so you’ll always be looking at the most up-to-date information. It’s also searchable, so you can find the information you need quickly and easily.
To sign up for the electronic version of the “Medicare & You” handbook, visit Medicare.gov/gopaperless and follow 3 simple steps:
Help the environment and enjoy finding your Medicare information faster. Go paperless today!
Women have unique health concerns, including certain types of cancers and high rates of chronic disease. Medicare covers many services to address these concerns, like a yearly “Wellness” visit, bone mass measurement, cervical cancer screenings, mammograms, and cardiovascular screenings. Medicare also covers other preventive services, so talk to your doctor about risk factors and to schedule your next screening.
Currently there’s no effective screening test for ovarian cancer, and it can be very hard to identify ovarian cancer early. The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer aren’t always clear and may be hard to recognize. It’s important to pay attention to your body and know what’s normal for you. If you notice any changes in your body that last for 2 weeks or longer and may be a sign or symptom of ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor and ask about possible causes. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional.
Make sure to ask your doctor about your level of risk for ovarian cancer at your “Welcome to Medicare” visit or your next yearly “Wellness” visit.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, a perfect time for you to learn more about this disease and know the symptoms. Visit the Centers for Disease Control for more information on ovarian cancer.
When someone steals or unlawfully uses personal information like your Social Security number or your Medicare number, it’s called identity theft. The number of identity theft victims age 65 or older increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014. In fact, thieves consider your Medicare number and other protected health information more valuable than credit card information because people can reuse them to bill Medicare for services that you didn’t get. When people steal your identity and bill Medicare for items or services you didn’t get, it drives up costs for everyone.
At Medicare, we’re fighting health care fraud, waste, and abuse every day. An important part of that is preventing identity theft. Right now, your Medicare number is based on a Social Security number—yours or someone else’s. Starting in April 2018, we’re replacing the Social Security-based Medicare number with a new Medicare number, and will mail you a new Medicare card with your new number. You don’t have to do anything to get your new card and new number. And we’ll NEVER call you and ask for personal information for you to get your new card.
Remember, the first and best line of defense against fraud is you. You can help fight Medicare fraud in 2 simple steps:
Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud. And find out how to spot, report, and stop fraud, and protect yourself from identity theft with help from the Senior Medicare Patrol.
We at CMS understand that there are many difficult decisions that come with a terminal illness—including deciding if hospice is right for you and which hospice to choose—which is why we have launched Hospice Compare. This new website will help empower you by allowing you to easily and quickly compare hospice providers on various aspects of care and assess the quality of care that potential hospices provide.
Hospice Compare provides information on hospices across the nation and allows patients, family members, caregivers, and healthcare providers to compare hospice providers based on some key quality metrics, like what percentage of a hospice provider’s patients were screened for pain or difficult or uncomfortable breathing and if their patients’ preferences are being met. Specifically, the quality measures look at the percentages of patients who received recommended treatment, for example:
The information on Hospice Compare can be used along with other information you gather about hospice providers in your area. In addition to reviewing the information on Hospice Compare, you’re encouraged to talk to your doctor, social worker, other healthcare providers, and other community resources when choosing the best hospice for care for you or your loved one.
In addition to Hospice Compare, Medicare also offers a number of other websites that can help you select providers and facilities to meet a wide range of care needs, including Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Compare; Long-Term Care Hospital Compare; Hospital Compare; Physician Compare; Nursing Home Compare; Medicare Plan Finder; Dialysis Compare; and Home Health Compare.
Medicare can help protect you from pneumococcal infections. The pneumococcal shot is the best way to help prevent these infections. Medicare Part B covers the shot and a second shot one year after you got the first shot.
You may be at a higher risk for these infections if you:
Learn more about Medicare-covered vaccines by watching our video. Preventing pneumonia is easy—get your pneumococcal shot today.
Hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver often caused by viruses, affects millions of people worldwide. Fortunately, Medicare can help keep you protected from Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C, the most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States.
Hepatitis is contagious. For example, the Hepatitis B virus spreads through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also get infected by coming in contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days. Hepatitis B can range from being a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term illness (chronic) that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.
Generally, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) covers Hepatitis A shots when medically necessary.
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers Hepatitis B shots, which usually are given as a series of 3 shots over a 6-month period. You need all 3 shots for complete protection.
Medicare also covers a one-time Hepatitis C screening test if your primary care doctor or practitioner orders it and you meet one of these conditions:
July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. Visit the Centers for Disease Control’s Viral Hepatitis page to learn more about the different forms of hepatitis and what you can do to help eliminate them from spreading.
Like Wayne, about two-thirds of people with Medicare have 2 or more chronic conditions. In fact, about a third of people with Medicare have 4 or more chronic conditions. If you live with 2 or more chronic conditions—like arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes, osteoporosis and high blood pressure that have lasted, or are expected to last, at least a year—Medicare may pay for a health care provider’s help to manage those conditions.
Chronic care management may include:
You may have to pay a monthly copayment for chronic care management services. If you have supplemental insurance or Medicaid, they may help pay the monthly costs.
Wayne now feels reassured knowing he can make contact with a health care professional regardless of the time of day or day of week, and has his high blood pressure and diabetes under control. Get the connected care you need—talk to your doctor or health care professional to see if you’re eligible for chronic care management, and watch our video to learn more about what’s covered. Health care professionals and community partners can learn more by visiting the Connected Care page at go.cms.gov/ccm.
Getting medical care, support, and maintaining safe behaviors can help improve the health and lives of people living with HIV. Medicare can help.
Medicare covers HIV screenings for people with Medicare of any age who ask for the test, pregnant women, and people at increased risk for the infection (such as gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, or people with multiple sexual partners).
HIV is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. There have been many advances in treatment, but early testing and diagnosis play key roles in reducing the spread of the disease, extending life expectancy, and cutting costs of care.