Starting in April 2018, Medicare will mail new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare, to help protect you from identity fraud. Fraudsters are always looking for ways to get your Social Security Number so we’re removing Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards to make them safer.
Your new card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you. The new card will help protect your identity and keep your personal information more secure. Your Medicare coverage and benefits stay the same.
And there’s more good news—Medicare will automatically mail your new card at no cost to the address you have on file with Social Security. There’s nothing you need to do! If you need to update your official mailing address, visit your online my Social Security account.
Once you get your new Medicare card, take these 3 steps to make it harder for someone to steal your information and identity:
Turning 65 soon? Transitioning to dual Medicare and Medicaid coverage and getting help with costs
If you’re enrolled in Medicaid and will soon have Medicare eligibility, it’s not too soon to start planning ahead. Once Medicare eligibility begins, you’ll have a 7 month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up. For most people, this is 3 months before, the month of, and 3 months after their 65th birthday.
Once you have Medicare and Medicaid coverage, Medicare will cover your Part D prescription drugs and you’ll automatically qualify to get Extra Help paying for your drug costs. If you have limited income and resources, you may also qualify for help paying for your Medicare Part B premium and other Medicare costs, like deductibles and coinsurance. Medicare and your state Medicaid program work together to provide you with this help, called the Medicare Savings Programs.
The 4 Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs)
If you have income from working, you may qualify for these 4 MSPs, even if your income is higher than the income limits listed below. Each program has a different income and resource eligibility limit. Even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you may qualify for one of these programs to help you cover your Medicare costs.
If you answer yes to these 3 questions, call your State Medicaid Program to see if you qualify for a Medicare Savings Program in your state:
What items are included in the Medicare Savings Program resource limits?
Countable resources include:
Each day, you make important choices about your finances, health, privacy, and more.
During National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 4–8, 2018, non-profit organizations and government agencies can help you take advantage of your rights and make better-informed choices.
Here are 5 things you can do to become an informed Medicare consumer:
Poverty, Race, and Ethnic Background Affect Access to Health Care and the Quality of Health Care
An examination of these disparities at the local and national levels is important in order to highlight the widespread nature of these health inequities.
At the national level, African American men, for instance, are more likely to die from cancer than Caucasian men. While Caucasian women are more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women, the latter are more likely to die from this particular form of cancer than Caucasian women. While Caucasian men are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than African-American men, the latter are more likely to die from this cancer than the former. On the other hand, African-American men are more likely than Caucasian men to develop prostate cancer. The underlying causes of these disparities are socio-economic policies, health access issues among African-Americans which Caucasian persons are less likely to encounter, as well as a lack of health education.
Among America’s minority populations, race, ethnicity, and poverty are more pronounced than among Caucasian Americans. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2013, 25 percent of Hispanics, 11 percent of persons of Asian descent, and 27 percent of African Americans lived in poverty while only 12 percent of Caucasians lived in poverty. Moreover, the more impoverished one is, the more likely it is that one cannot afford health insurance. In 2012, 23 percent of “poor” and 24 percent of “lower-income” persons in the US lacked health insurance. In 2012, 26 percent of Native American/Alaska Natives, 18 percent of African Americans, 16 percent of persons of Asian descent, and 12 percent of native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders lacked health insurance. In a 2013 study of the non-elderly uninsured, 32 percent of all Hispanics, 14 percent of all African Americans, and 6 percent of all Americans of Asian/Pacific Islander descent reported they lacked health insurance. The same study looked at all non-elderly, uninsured Americans and found that 71 percent of this population had 1 or more full time workers in the family.
The costs of health care in the United States may also impoverish many American citizens. According to a recent report, 62 percent of persons who filed bankruptcy in 2007 did so as a result of medical expenses.
Minnesota’s 2014 Health Equity Report highlights the disparate mortality rates of various races broken down by age group per 100,000 persons between the years of 2007 and 2011. For the 45 to 64 age group, 772 African American, 1,063 Native Americans, 325 persons of Asian descent, and 434 Caucasian persons died per 100,000 persons. Data from Rhode Island during the years 2011-13 shows the disparities which Hispanics and African Americans face. While 41 percent of Latinos 26 percent of African Americans reported having not having any health insurance during this time, 13 percent of Caucasians in Rhode Island reported the same information. While 31 percent of Hispanics and 22 percent of Native Americans in Rhode Island reported not being able to afford seeing a health care provider during this period, 12 percent of Caucasians reported the same information. The National Center for Health Statistics reported in March 2015 that African-American and Latino children are almost twice as likely as Caucasian children to have untreated tooth decay in primary teeth.
The numbers of Hispanics with health insurance differs nationally. In 2012, the number of uninsured Hispanics was 29 percent and in 2013 this number dipped to 24 percent.
The Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Would Save the U.S. Health Care System Billions of Dollars Annually
A 2011 study estimates that the economic costs of health disparities due to race for African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos from 2003 thru 2006 was a little over $229 billion. In a report issued in September, 2009, the Urban Institute calculated that the Medicare program would save $15.6 billion per year if health disparities were eliminated. The study examined a select set of preventable diseases among the Latino and African American communities, including diabetes, hypertension and stroke, and concluded that – if the prevalence of such diseases in the African American and Latino communities were reduced to the same prevalence as those diseases occur in the non-Latino white population – $23.9 billion in health care costs would be saved in 2009 alone.
As the representation of Latinos and African Americans in the general population increases, health care costs could be reduced even further by addressing racial and ethnic health disparities. Therefore, in addition to the compelling ethical and moral reasons to eliminate health disparities, there are economic reasons to do so as well.
Reducing Racial and Ethnic Health Care Disparities Is Essential for Better Health Care Outcomes and for Lowering Health Care Costs
There is a growing realization among healthcare researchers, clinicians, and advocates that a focus on health care disparities is an important aspect of improving healthcare outcomes and that activities toward improvement must bring together many elements of our healthcare delivery system. The populations that have customarily been underserved in the American health care system include African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.
Defining Health Disparities
The term "health disparities" is often defined as "a difference in which disadvantaged social groups such as the poor, racial/ethnic minorities, women and other groups who have persistently experienced social disadvantage or discrimination systematically experience worse health or greater health risks than more advantaged social groups." When this term is applied to certain ethnic and racial social groups, it describes the increased presence and severity of certain diseases, poorer health outcomes, and greater difficulty in obtaining healthcare services for these races and ethnicities. When systemic barriers to good health are avoidable yet still remain, they are often referred to as "health inequities."
An understanding of how race, ethnicity, geography, education, and income impact one’s access to health services can provide valuable insight to health policy experts and advocates. Learning more about these disparities can be a way of lessening these kinds of inequalities. An analysis of the root causes of racial and ethnic disparities and what can be done to eliminate them can serve this end goal. Below are discussions of specific poorer health outcomes and ethnic and racial disparities which can be a result of social determinants. It is important to address how racial and ethnic disparities are not only morally wrong and fiscally unwise, but stress our health infrastructure, including programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
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