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.

This Valentine’s Day Give Your Heart Some Love

Although popular love songs might tell you otherwise, a broken heart can’t kill you – but heart disease can.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. 

You might not be able to avoid Cupid’s arrow, but you can take steps to lower your risks and prevent heart disease.  Start by scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss whether you’re at risk for heart disease. 

Medicare will cover a cardiovascular screening at no cost to you every 5 years.  The screening includes tests to help detect heart disease early and measures cholesterol, blood fat (lipids), and triglyceride levels. 

If you and your doctor discover that you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke, there are steps you can take to help prevent these conditions.  You might be able to make lifestyle changes (like changing your diet and increasing your activity level or exercising more often) to lower your cholesterol and stay healthy.

Luckily, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. The national Million Hearts campaign has pledged to help prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. You can join them, and get information and resources you need to learn how to take care of your heart and live a healthy life.

February is American Heart Month, and a healthy heart is the best Valentine’s Day gift you could ever give yourself, or the people who love you.

Take the test for HIV, take control

Have you ever been tested for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)? More than 1 million Americans are infected with HIV, yet approximately 1 in 5 of them don’t know it.

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).

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.

Health screenings save men’s lives

Did you ever put off doing a task or getting a test and later wished you’d just gotten it over with? If you’re a man with Medicare, now’s the time to talk with your doctor about whether you should get screened for prostate cancer, for colorectal cancer, or for both. Screening tests can find cancer early, when treatment works best.

Don’t worry about the cost—if you’re a man 50 or over, Medicare covers a digital rectal exam and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test once every 12 month. Also, Medicare covers a variety of colorectal cancer screenings, and you pay nothing for most tests.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, second only to lung cancer in the number of cancer deaths. Not sure you should get screened? You’re at a 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 second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among cancers that affect both men and women. If everyone 50 or older got screened regularly, we could avoid as many as 60% of deaths from this cancer.

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. If you’re 50 or older, or have a personal or family history of colorectal issues, make sure you get screened regularly for colorectal cancer.

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.

Say “no” to tobacco!

This year include tobacco in your annual spring cleaning, and kick those cigarette butts in the, well, butt!  Why? Because tobacco use is the second leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 1 in every 10 adult deaths. If you or someone you love is ready to quit smoking, we can help.

Medicare can help you quit smoking

Part B covers free counseling sessions as a preventive service to help you quit smoking. If you haven’t been diagnosed with an illness caused or complicated by tobacco use, and if the doctor or other health care provider accepts assignment, then you pay nothing for the counseling sessions.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with an illness that was caused or made worse by tobacco use, or you take a medicine affected by tobacco, you can still get up to 8 counseling sessions every 12 months. In this case, you pay your Part B deductible and 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. (If you get counseling in a hospital outpatient setting, you’ll also need to pay the hospital a copayment.)

Let’s get started!

Bring out the trash bags and the brooms – it’s time for a clean start this spring. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and the National Cancer Institute to learn more about how you can quit smoking.

This spring, put prevention into practice

The onset of spring is a reminder of new beginnings – the longer hours of daylight, sprouting tulips and warmer weather are all indicators of a new season, and a new reason to be proactive with your health.  One simple way to manage your health is to practice preventive care. Because preventive services can find health problems early, when treatment works best, it’s a crucial step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Your Preventive Services with Medicare

If you have Medicare, then you have access to a variety of preventive tests and screenings, most at no cost to you. If you’re new to Medicare, your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit is now covered for free during your first 12 months of Part B coverage. This visit includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health and education and counseling about preventive services, including certain screenings, shots, and referrals for other care, if needed.

If you’ve had Part B for longer than 12 months, you can get a yearly wellness visit to develop or update a personalized prevention plan based on your current health and risk factors.  In addition to these important wellness visits, Medicare covers screening tests for diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease, just to name a few.

So as you tend to your garden this spring, make a commitment to tend to yourself too. Practice preventive care to ensure you stay healthy, live longer, and delay or prevent many diseases.

This Valentine’s Day give your heart some love

Although popular love songs might tell you otherwise, a broken heart can’t kill you – but heart disease can.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. 

You might not be able to avoid Cupid’s arrow, but you can take steps to lower your risks and prevent heart disease.  Start by scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss whether you’re at risk for heart disease. 

Medicare will cover a cardiovascular screening at no cost to you every 5 years.  The screening includes tests to help detect heart disease early and measures cholesterol, blood fat (lipids), and triglyceride levels. 

If you and your doctor discover that you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke, there are steps you can take to help prevent these conditions.  You might be able to make lifestyle changes (like changing your diet and increasing your activity level or exercising more often) to lower your cholesterol and stay healthy.

Luckily, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. The national Million Hearts campaign has pledged to help prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years. You can join them, and get information and resources you need to learn how to take care of your heart and live a healthy life.

February is American Heart Month, and a healthy heart is the best Valentine’s Day gift you could ever give yourself, or the people who love you.