Today’s older Americans are living longer and better lives. May is Older Americans Month, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate what getting older looks like today. When we come together to celebrate this year’s theme of “Age Out Loud,” we give aging a new voice—one that reflects what you have to say.
How can you get involved? Start by striving for health and wellness. The best way to stay healthy is to live a healthy lifestyle. You can be healthier and prevent disease by exercising, eating well, keeping a healthy weight, and not smoking. We’re here to help!
Medicare covers a yearly “Wellness” visit once each year. Schedule an appointment with your doctor or health care provider to make a plan to help prevent disease and disability. Be sure to print this checklist and take it with you, so you and your provider can talk about what preventive services can keep you healthy. Medicare pays for many of these services.
In addition to striving for wellness, there are lots of activities you can do to amplify your voice and raise awareness of vital aging issues across the country. Be sure to join your peers in trying new things, engaging in your community, focusing on your independence, and advocating for yourself and others.
Help promote Older Americans Month and this year’s theme of Age of Loud by using the hashtags #OAM17 and #AgeOutLoud on social media. Visit oam.acl.gov to learn more about how to celebrate your age.
Did you know viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for 1.34 million deaths per year? Together, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C cause 80% of liver cancer cases in the world.
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:
Millions of Americans have or are at risk for diabetes, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The disease can lead to kidney failure, amputations, and blindness. November is American Diabetes Month, the perfect time for you to find out if you’re at risk and learn about the benefits Medicare covers if you have diabetes.
Many people with diabetes don’t know that they have it—fortunately, Medicare covers screening tests so you can find out if you do. If you’re at high risk for developing diabetes, Medicare covers up to 2 fasting blood glucose (blood sugar) tests each year. If your doctor accepts assignment, you pay nothing for these tests. You may be at high risk for diabetes if you’re obese, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of diabetes. Talk to your doctor to find out when you should get your free screening test.
If you have diabetes, Medicare covers many of your supplies, including test strips, monitors, and control solutions. In some cases, Medicare also covers therapeutic shoes if you have diabetic foot problems. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for these supplies.
Medicare also covers diabetes self-management training to help you learn how to better manage your diabetes. You can learn how to monitor your blood sugar, control your diet, exercise, and manage your prescriptions. Talk to your doctor about how this training can help you stay healthy and avoid serious complications. Get information about how Medicare can help you detect and manage diabetes by watching our video.
You can learn more about American Diabetes Month and how to prevent and treat this disease from the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org.
Take steps to fight diabetes today—talk to your doctor today about screening tests and what supplies and training you may need to stay healthy.
By Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center of Medicare at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
A number of visitors to www.HealthCare.gov have told us they’d like to know more about the Medicare “donut hole” in the Part D program.
If you aren’t familiar with Medicare, it is a health insurance program for people 65 or older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure). People with Medicare have the option of paying a monthly premium for outpatient prescription drug coverage. This prescription drug coverage is called Medicare Part D.
In 2010, basic Medicare Part D coverage works like this:
For those that qualify, there is also a program called Medicare Extra Help that helps you pay your premiums and have reduced or no out-of-pocket costs for your drugs.
Needless to say, for most people with Medicare Part D, the donut hole presents serious financial challenges. Some people have had to choose between their rent or groceries and their prescription drugs.
But, the recent health reform law – the Affordable Care Act – has some important changes that will help to relieve this burden for the people with Medicare that hit the donut hole each year (and are not already on a program called Medicare Extra Help,):
If you would like more information on the one-time rebate check, feel free to check out this brochure or call 1-800-MEDICARE. (Please note that you do not need to do anything to receive this rebate check and should not provide any personal information such as Medicare, Social Security or bank account numbers to anyone calling about the rebate.)
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:
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:
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.