Could you be saving money?

Many people could be saving money on premiums and prescriptions, and don’t even know it. Recently, a 90-year-old woman in Oklahoma came to her local State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (SHIP) because she was unable to pay for her prescriptions and her Medicare Part D premium.

A counselor at the SHIP helped her apply for Extra Help and found her a new Part D plan that better fit her needs. Now she spends no money on her premium and very little on her prescriptions – saving her thousands of dollars over the course of the year. She is just one of many people that can save money – and you could be one too.

Medicare Savings Programs

If your monthly income is less than $1,277 ($1,723 as a couple), you may be able to save money with these 4 different Medicare Savings Programs that help pay for premiums and more:

  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program
  • Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB)
  • Qualified Individual (QI) Program
  • Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI)

Each program has a different monthly income limit – get more information about the 2012 limits and how to find out if you qualify.

Extra Help

Many people with limited income and resources may qualify for Medicare’s “Extra Help” program, but they must apply to find out. You could be one of them. You may qualify if you have up to $16,755 in yearly income ($22,695 for a married couple) and up to $13,070 in resources ($26,120 for a married couple). Get more information about Medicare’s “Extra Help” program.

You can get help with Part D prescription drug coverage premiums, deductibles and copayments. This means you don’t have to go without medications because you can’t afford them, and can get help just like our 90-year-old friend in Oklahoma.

It’s easy and free to apply for “Extra Help.”

Save money, live well, and share the information.

Join the fight against Medicare fraud

Medicare fraud affects everyone. You can team up with Medicare to help.

Our Senior Medicare Patrol volunteers are teaching people like you how to spot, report, and stop fraud, and protect themselves from identity theft.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Guard your Medicare and Social Security numbers. Treat them like you would treat your credit cards.
  • Hang up the phone if someone calls and asks for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or bank or credit card information. We will NEVER call and ask for this information, and we will NEVER call you or come to your home uninvited to sell Medicare products.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who offers you free medical equipment or services and then requests your Medicare number. It’s illegal, and it’s not worth it!
  • Do not let anyone borrow or pay you to use your Medicare ID card or your identity.
  • Check your Medicare claims for errors. Look at your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or statements from your Medicare plan. You can also check www.MyMedicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) as soon as your claims have been processed. The sooner you see and report errors, the sooner we can stop fraud. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE to report any suspected fraud.

Learn more about spotting and reporting fraud, and get tips on protecting yourself from identity theft.

Find out about Senior Medicare Patrol activities in your area.

Making Medicare claims and benefits statement clearer, simpler

As part of National Consumer Protection Week, the Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Marilyn Tavenner, announced the redesign of the statement that informs Medicare beneficiaries about their claims for Medicare services and benefits.  The redesigned statement, known as the Medicare Summary Notice (MSN), will be available online and, starting in 2013, mailed out quarterly to beneficiaries.

This MSN redesign is part of a new initiative, “Your Medicare Information: Clearer, Simpler, At Your Fingertips,” which aims to make Medicare information clearer, more accessible, and easier for beneficiaries and their caregivers to understand.  CMS will take additional actions this year to make information about benefits, providers, and claims more accessible and easier to understand for seniors and people with disabilities who have Medicare.  This MSN redesign reflects more than 18 months of research and feedback from beneficiaries to provide enhanced customer service and respond to suggestions and input.

“Consumer protection starts with making sure consumers not only get timely and accurate information, but that they understand what services they’re receiving from Medicare,” said Acting Administrator Tavenner.  “The new Medicare Summary Notice empowers Medicare’s seniors and people with disabilities.  The statement is easier to understand and navigate, and makes clear what information to check and how to report potential fraud.  The new MSN also makes it easier for people with Medicare to understand their benefits and file appeals if a claim is denied.”

To see a side-by-side comparison of the former and redesigned MSNs, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/msn_changes.pdf 

The redesign of the MSN includes several features not currently available to Medicare beneficiaries with the current MSN:

  • A clear notice on how to check the form for important facts and potential fraud;
  • An easy-to-understand snapshot of the beneficiary’s deductible status, a list of providers they saw, and whether their claims for Medicare services were approved.
  • Clearer language, including consumer-friendly descriptions for medical procedures;
  • Definitions of all terms used in the form;
  • Larger fonts throughout to make it easier to read;
  • Information on preventive services available to Medicare beneficiaries.

Starting later this week, the redesigned MSN will be available to beneficiaries on mymedicare.gov, Medicare’s secure online service for personalized information regarding Medicare benefits and services; and, in early 2013, paper copies of the redesigned MSN will start to replace the current version being mailed.

5 Ways to Become an Informed Medicare Consumer

By Marilyn Tavenner, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Each day, you make decisions about your finances, health, privacy, and more. It’s important to protect yourself and make the best choices for you, especially when it comes to your Medicare.

During National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), non-profit organizations and government agencies give people like you information on how to take advantage of your rights and make better-informed choices. At Medicare, we’re here to help you become an informed Medicare consumer. Here are 5 things you can do:

  1. Know your rights. As a person with Medicare, you have certain rights and protections designed to help protect you and make sure you get the health care services the law says you can get.
  2. Protect your identity. Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes. Keep the following personal information safe:
  • Your name
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your Medicare number (or your membership card if you’re in a Medicare Advantage or other Medicare health plan)
  • Your credit card and bank account numbers

Get more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

  1. Help fight Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud diverts money from the Medicare program each year, which means higher health care costs for you. Learn how to spot and report fraud.
  2. Get involved with other seniors with the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). The SMP educates and empowers people with Medicare to take an active role in detecting and preventing health care fraud and abuse.
  3. Make informed Medicare choices. Each year during the fall Open Enrollment Period (October 15-December 7), review your plan to make sure it’s going to meet your needs for the following year. If you’re not satisfied with your current plan, you can switch during the Open Enrollment Period.

Visit NCPW to learn more about the campaign, see which agencies and organizations are able to help you, and to find out if there are any NCPW activities happening in your area.