Get yearly prostate cancer screenings

Did you know prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men?

Help prevent prostate cancer from affecting you or the men in your life. If you’re a man who’s 50 or older, make sure you get screened for prostate cancer every 12 months.

Your Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers 2 tests to help find prostate cancer early, when treatment works best:

  • Digital rectal exam—You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount after the yearly Part B deductible. In a hospital outpatient setting, you pay a copayment.
  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test—Free to all men with Medicare 50 and older (coverage for this test begins the day after your 50th birthday). If you get the test from a doctor that doesn’t accept assignment, you may have to pay an additional fee for the doctor’s services, but not for the test itself.

Learn more about prostate cancer by visiting the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Getting shots doesn’t have to be a pain

Are you taking precautions to make sure you stay healthy?  Just like you take your car for scheduled maintenance, it’s important to do what you can to take care of your body.  Medicare covers many preventive services, and we make it easy for you to get these 3 shots:

  1. Flu Shots—Covered once a flu season in the fall or winter. 
  2. Hepatitis B ShotsCovered for people at high or medium risk for Hepatitis B (usually a series of 3 shots).
  3. Pneumococcal ShotCovered to help prevent pneumococcal infections (like certain types of pneumonia). Most people only need this shot once in their lifetime.

As we approach the fall, you’ll see these shots offered in many places, such as your local pharmacy, so make sure you take advantage of them. You pay nothing as long as the supplier or doctor accepts assignment for giving the shot.

A strong immune system is way more important than your car, so make the time to stay healthy and take a few minutes to watch our video on National Immunization Awareness Month.

Medicare protects you on World Hepatitis Day and every day

Did you know that hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, affects millions of people worldwide, resulting in acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year?

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.

Medicare can help keep you protected from some of the common strains of hepatitis: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

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).

There’s a third type of Hepatitis—Hepatitis C. Medicare covers a one-time Hepatitis C screening test if your primary care doctor or practitioner orders it and you meet one of these conditions:

  • You’re at high risk because you have a current or past history of illicit injection drug use
  • You had a blood transfusion before 1992, or
  • You were born between 1945 and 1965

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. Find out how you can prevent and treat hepatitis by visiting the World Health Organization’s World Hepatitis Day web page.

Take charge, take the test for HIV

Did you know that approximately 1 in 5 of the more than 1 million Americans infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) don’t know they’re carrying the virus?

Medicare covers HIV screening 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.Early testing and diagnosis play key roles in reducing the spread of the disease, extending life expectancy, and cutting costs of care. At least 1 in 3 people in the U.S. who test positive for HIV is tested too late to get the full advantage of treatment. Testing is also an important first step in getting HIV-infected people the medical care and support they need to improve their health and help them maintain safer behaviors.

Visit Health & Human Services’ Aids.gov website to learn about National HIV Testing Day, June 27.

Go paperless and help the environment

Do you know what June 5th is?  It’s World Environment Day – a day for encouraging awareness and action for the environment that’s celebrated in over 100 countries worldwide.  How will you make your voice heard this year?  One great way is to sign up to get your “Medicare & You” handbook electronically.

If you have an e-Reader (like an iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, or Kindle) you can download a free digital version of the Medicare & You handbook to your e-Reader and take it with you anywhere you go.

Don’t have an e-Reader? You can still sign up to get a paperless version in a few simple steps. We’ll send you an email next September when the new eHandbook is available.  This online version of the handbook contains all the same information as the printed version.

Even better, the handbook information on the web is updated regularly, so you can instantly find the most up-to-date Medicare information!

Sign up today to get your Medicare & You information electronically and you’ll be making a difference for the environment. And that’s a great way to make your voice heard and celebrate World Environment Day.

Even “healthy” men need health screenings

Are you the type of guy who puts off doing a task and later wishes he’d just done it? If you’re a man with Medicare, now’s the time to talk with your doctor about whether you should get screened forprostate cancer, for colorectal cancer, or for both. Even if you’re feeling fine, screening tests can find cancer early, when treatment works best.

Don’t put off screenings if you’re worried about the cost: Medicare covers a digital rectal exam and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test once every 12 months if you’re a man with Medicare who’s 50 or over. Also, Medicare also covers several types of colorectal cancer screenings, and you pay nothing for most tests.

Did you know prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, second only to lung cancer in the number of total male cancer deaths? You’re at higher risk for getting prostate cancer if you’re a man 50 or older, are African-American, or have a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer.

Colorectal cancer is also common among men—in fact, it’s the third most commonly diagnosed cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the US and the third leading cause of cancer death. In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Fortunately, screening tests can find these polyps, so you can get them removed before they turn into cancer.

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer goes up as you age. If everyone 50 or older got screened regularly, we could avoid as many as 60% of deaths from this cancer. Make sure you get screened regularly for colorectal cancer if you’re 50 or older, or have a personal or family history of colorectal issues.

June is Men’s Health Month, a perfect time for you (and the men in your life) to take the steps to live a safer, healthier life. Watch our videos on how Medicare has you covered on prostate cancer and colorectal cancer screenings, and visit the Centers for Disease Control for more information on men’s health.

Traveling abroad this summer? Plan a worry-free vacation.

If you’re planning a vacation abroad this summer, you already know that there’s a lot to do before you leave. There are suitcases to pack, an itinerary to plan, and perhaps a passport to renew. We want you to have the most relaxing vacation possible, so before you go don’t forget to:

  1. Look into Medicare coverage outside the United States.
  2. Think about getting additional health care coverage.

You already have Medicare, so your health care services and supplies are covered when you’re in the U.S., (including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands). When you travel overseas or outside the U.S. (including to Canada or Mexico), it’s important to know how your Medicare works.

In most cases, Medicare won’t pay for health care services or supplies you get outside the U.S. Medicare may pay for health care and services you get outside the U.S. in these rare cases.

Because Medicare coverage outside the U.S. is limited, you may want to buy a travel insurance policy. To find out more about these policies, talk to an insurance or travel agent. Not all travel policies include health insurance, so ask questions and read the terms and conditions carefully.

Taking the time to plan out your health care coverage before you travel abroad will help you to have an enjoyable and relaxing trip. For more information on how to stay healthy abroad, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s Traveler’s Health page.