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. 

When was your last mammogram?

Have you had your mammogram this year?

Mammograms are breast cancer screening tests that can often detect a lump before you or your doctor can feel it. This can help detect breast cancer early, when it’s the most treatable. All women over 40 should have a screening mammogram every 12 months – and Medicare covers it at no cost if your doctor accepts assignment.

Talk to your doctor about risk factors, and to schedule your next screening. Take control of your health – better health is in your hands.

Protect yourself and those you love—get your free flu shot

It’s that time of year again.  With the beginning of fall comes the beginning of flu season. 

Get your flu shot early and stay healthy!  It’s free for people with Medicare, once per flu season in the fall or winter, when given by doctors or other health care providers (such as senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare.

Schedule your flu shot today!

Protect Your Health with Covered Shots

Keeping your immune system strong is a lifelong, life-protecting job, but we’ve got you covered. Your Medicare preventive benefits include three shots:

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

Getting your shots has never been easier. As we approach the fall season, you will see these shots offered in many places, such as your local pharmacy, so make sure you take advantage of them. As long as the supplier or doctor accepts assignment for giving the shot, you pay nothing.

Get Free Screenings to Help Fight Cancer

You can take control of your health with Medicare’s preventive benefits. Get free screenings to detect cancer early, when treatment works best. Preventing and stopping the progress of chronic diseases improves your health and quality of life. It also helps Medicare spend less on long-term illnesses that could have been prevented.

If you have Medicare, you can get the following screenings:

-          Colorectal cancer screenings – four different screenings to detect colon and rectal cancers, each is covered as needed for all people age 50 and older

-          Prostate cancer screenings – covered for all men age 50 or older

-          Mammograms – screenings to detect breast cancer, covered for all women age 40 or older

-          Pap test and pelvic exams – screenings to detect cervical and vaginal cancers, covered for all women

-          Smoking cessation counseling – help quitting smoking, to help prevent lung, throat, and other cancers; covered for all people who use tobacco

Call your doctor’s office to set up your yearly preventive visit, where you can ask about any risk factors that may affect you, and schedule your preventive screenings. Your doctor can also help you keep track of when you should get screenings and which kinds are right for you.

Affordable Care Act Saves $260 Million This Year

By Donald M. Berwick, M.D., Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Cross posted from Healthcare.gov

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, almost half a million individuals enrolled in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit have received a 50 percent discount on their out-of-pocket costs in the first five months of 2011.

Because of Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, beneficiaries now automatically receive a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs in the Part D coverage gap, or “donut hole,” and have saved more than $260 million so far this year.

In May alone, we have seen a 76 percent increase in the number of beneficiaries receiving this discount (478,272 individuals through the end of May compared to 270,900 through the end of April). In addition, the total savings these beneficiaries received grew over 56 percent in one month, for a total average savings of $545 per beneficiary (for state-by-state figures, please click here).

Most of these discounts are helping Americans with serious medical conditions – nearly 14 percent of the benefits provided to date – more than $36 million – are for cancer drugs, more than 8 percent or $21 million for drugs to help control high blood pressure and cholesterol, and another more than 7 percent – about $20 million – are for drugs provides to diabetic patients.

As more and more beneficiaries hit the donut hole through the rest of this year, the numbers will continue to climb. All of these beneficiaries will see savings on their drug costs that were not available in previous years.

And cheaper prescriptions are just one of the many ways the Affordable Care Act is improving Medicare for seniors. Thanks to the new law, many preventive care screenings are available free of charge. As of June 10, we found that about 5.5 million people with Medicare have accessed one or more preventive measures and last week, we launched a new awareness effort– Share the News, Share the Health – to highlight Medicare’s preventive benefits and encourage Medicare beneficiaries taking advantage of these potentially lifesaving services.

More information on the free preventive services that are available to people on Medicare can be found on the “Manage Your Health” tab at www.Medicare.gov.

¿Habla usted español? Es.Medicare.gov speaks your language.

You already know that Medicare.gov has a wealth of current information: everything from basic costs and coverage to details about screening tests and visits to help you stay healthy.

Es.Medicare.gov is one of many ways we’re sharing Medicare information so everyone can better understand their health care options and get the best care. Now, Es.Medicare.gov also includes everything you need to know about preventive benefits, like recommended cancer screenings and discounts on brand-name drugs in the donut hole.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • ·         Details about exactly what Medicare covers and what you pay, including for preventive tests and screenings
  • ·         Helpful Web sites and phone numbers for people who can answer your questions
  • ·         “Medicare & You” handbook
  • ·         Fact sheets and publications with specific details about the Medicare Program
  • ·         Step-by-step information about how to file an appeal
  • ·         Forms to apply for Medicare , file claims, and more

Visit Es.Medicare.gov, and tell your friends and family. Because when you share the news, you share the health.