As we enter flu season, you may seek fast relief when illness strikes, but think twice before asking your doctor for antibiotics. Did you know that if you have a cold or flu, antibiotics won’t work for you? That’s because antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infections. Every time someone takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may survive to grow and multiply. These resistant germs lead to severe infections, hospitalizations, and death - especially among people over 65.
The CDC has marked this week as Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. Here are 3 things you can do to make sure you’re using antibiotics properly:
1. Take antibiotics only to treat a true bacterial infection. It should be for only as long as your doctor prescribed to treat the infection, to reduce your risk of getting the infection again, or to reduce the risk to those around you.
2. Always talk to your doctor before taking an antibiotic to be sure it will treat the infection you have.
3. Never take antibiotics for a viral infection, such as a cold, cough, or the flu. Antibiotics won’t cure your virus, they won’t keep those around you from getting the illness, and they won’t help you feel better. In fact, taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do you more harm than good, because you increase your risk of getting an antibiotic-resistant infection later.
Antibiotics won’t help you recover from the flu, but keep yourself from catching the major flu viruses in the first place by getting your flu shot! 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.
Every year, more people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer and smoking is the leading cause. Don’t become a statistic – Medicare is ready to help you quit smoking. Talk to your doctor today and cross one thing off your list.
Besides being famous for Thanksgiving, November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month. While you’re making lists for the upcoming holiday season, make a note to talk with your doctor about quitting if you smoke. Medicare covers 8 face-to-face smoking cessation counseling sessions during a 12-month period. If you haven’t been diagnosed with an illness caused or complicated by tobacco use, you pay nothing for these counseling sessions, as long as you get them from a qualified doctor or another Medicare provider.
Did you know that over 66 million Americans care for loved ones who have chronic illnesses, disabilities, or frailties that come naturally with old age?
November is National Family Caregiver Month – a perfect opportunity to reach out for help if you’re caring for someone with Medicare. If you’re a caregiver, here are 4 things you can do this month to help you help your loved one:
- Check out our caregiver resources, including our caregiver resource kit and tips on how to take care of yourself.
- Make sure your loved one’s Medicare coverage still meets their needs. Medicare Open Enrollment is from now until December 7, and it’s important to take a few minutes to review coverage and pick a plan that works for your loved one.
- Learn how to reach out for help with AARP’s article on “Creating Your Caregiving Team” – a great reminder that caregiving is a big responsibility that no one should take on alone.
- Find resources near you by visiting the Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator.
BELIEVE in yourself… PROTECT your health… REACH OUT for help.
November 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Medicare coverage for Hospice care. That’s right, for 30 years Medicare has covered hospice care, so that those who are terminally ill can spend the last moments of their lives with dignity and comfort, among their loved ones.
Hospice is a program of care and support for people who are terminally ill. The focus is on comfort and support, not on curing an illness. Hospice care is generally provided in the home, by a specially trained team of professionals and caregivers. Services may include physical care, counseling, drugs, equipment, and supplies for the terminal illness and related condition(s).
For more information about hospice, you can visit Medicare.gov. To find a hospice program, talk to your doctor or call your state hospice organization.
Here’s to 30 more years of providing the comfort, care, and support that you and your family deserve during this difficult time.
In today’s world, we’re all a little more conscious of costs. Maybe we clip a few more coupons, eat out less, or compare ads to find the best price on something before we buy.
Cost is an important factor in any purchase, and health care is no different. We know you want to get the best value possible from your health care coverage. But you still need to make smart choices to get good value out of your health insurance.
There may be dozens of Medicare plans in your area, all with different costs and levels of coverage.How much are each plan’s premiums and deductibles? How much will you pay for the benefits and services you’re likely to use? Is there a limit on what you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the year?
Prescription drug coverage is another part of the cost puzzle. How much will your prescriptions cost under each plan? Does the plan cover the drugs you take? Remember, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, everyone who reaches the Part D coverage gap (or “donut hole”) will benefit from a discount of more than 50% on covered brand-name drugs.
Only you can determine what mix of benefits and costs will work best with your needs and budget. Shopping around can make a huge difference, and we want to help.
The Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to compare plans so you can pick a plan that meets your needs. After you’ve narrowed your options, you can call the plans you’re interested in to get more details about their benefits and services, or check out their websites.
Whether groceries, health insurance, phone plans or anything else, you want value for your dollar. Make sure you have the most up-to-date information out there.
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!
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.
Love your red, white, and blue “Medicare & You” handbook but love the convenience of getting information on your computer, tablet, or phone even more?
You can get all of the same information in your printed handbook online at Medicare.gov. Learn what’s new, get Medicare costs, and find out what Medicare covers. Even better, the handbook information on the web is updated regularly, so you can instantly find the most up-to-date Medicare information.
On Medicare.gov, you can also do a lot of things on your own like replace your Medicare card, change your address, sign up or make changes to your Medicare coverage, and find out important dates. All this in time for October 15 – the start of open enrollment.
Take advantage of some other great features to get just what you need:
- Search quickly for what you want and print only the pages you need, while getting the latest, up-to-date official Medicare information, including the most recent list of available plans
- Get “Medicare & You” in different formats like large print, eBook or audio
- Subscribe to get an e-mail when information is updated
- Access personalized information
And, if you’d like to trade in your printed copy for a paperless version, we’ve got you covered. You can choose to get your next “Medicare & You” handbook electronically by using the “go paperless” option. In a few simple steps, you’ll be all set. Sign up today and we’ll send you an e-mail including a link to the new online Medicare & You. It’s instant, current, and convenient.
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.
- 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).
Learn more about prostate cancer by visiting the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Medicare Summary Notice has a new look to help you better understand your Medicare information. We’re excited to announce that you will soon start to see the award-winning, redesigned Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) hitting your mailboxes. The new design puts clear language in an easy-to-follow format, so that your Medicare information is easier to understand.
As part of our “Your Medicare Information: Clearer, Simpler, At Your Fingertips” initiative, we listened to you and made the MSN better with:
- An easy-to-understand snapshot that puts the information you care about most (like deductible status, a list of provider visits, and claim status) in one convenient place.
- A dedicated section that tells you how to spot potential fraud.
- Clearer language, descriptions and definitions.
- Larger type that makes the MSN easier to read.
- Preventive services information to help you stay healthy.
- A clearer description of the appeal process to follow if you disagree with a claim.
If you have Original Medicare, you can expect this new design for the MSN to arrive in your mailbox throughout the next few months. Or, better yet, go to MyMedicare.gov, where you can check your Medicare claims information online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.