Need diabetes screening, supplies or training? We’ve got you covered.

Millions of Americans have or are at risk for diabetes. November is American Diabetes Month, an ideal time for you to find out if you’re at risk and learn about the self-management training and supplies Medicare covers if you do have diabetes.

Many people with diabetes don’t know that they have it—fortunately, Medicare covers screening tests so you can find out if you do. If you’re at high risk for developing diabetes, Medicare covers up to 2 fasting blood glucose (blood sugar) tests each year. If your doctor accepts assignment, you pay nothing for these tests. You may be at high risk for diabetes if you’re obese, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of diabetes. Talk to your doctor to find out when you should get your free screening test.

If you have diabetes, Medicare covers many of your supplies, including test strips, monitors, and control solutions. In some cases, Medicare also covers therapeutic shoes if you have diabetic foot problems. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for these supplies.

Medicare also covers diabetes self-management training to help you learn how to better manage your diabetes. You can learn how to monitor your blood sugar, control your diet, exercise, and manage your prescriptions. Talk to your doctor about how this training can help you stay healthy and avoid serious complications.

Medicare also offers the Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program to some people with Medicare who live in underserved and rural communities. This program offers weekly group sessions (typically lasting 6 to 10 weeks) that help people effectively self-manage their diabetes by learning about topics like nutrition, exercise, self-monitoring, diabetes medications and community resources and support. If you’re eligible, you pay nothing to participate in the program. To find out if you’re eligible or if there’s an available class near you, contact the Quality Innovation Network – Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) in your state.

You can learn more about American Diabetes Month and how to prevent and treat this disease from the American Diabetes Association at

Take control of your health—talk to your doctor today about screening tests and what supplies and training you may need for your health.

Medicare Open Enrollment: ready to pick a plan?

It’s that time of year—watch football, rake the leaves, and pick a Medicare health or drug plan. Today is the start of Medicare Open Enrollment!

Picking a plan is an important and personal decision. Now’s the time to think about what matters to you, and pick the Medicare plan that meets your needs. Here are some things to think about:

Does the plan cover the services you need?

Future health care needs can be hard to predict, but changes happen. Make sure you understand what services and benefits you’re likely to use in the coming year and find coverage that meets your needs. If you have other types of health or prescription drug coverage, make sure you understand how that coverage works with Medicare. And, if you travel a lot, does your plan cover you when you’re away from home?

No matter what plan you pick, you’ll have better choices and more benefits thanks to the health care law like these:

What’s the cost?

The lowest-cost health plan option might not be the best choice for you—consider things like the cost of premiums and deductibles, how much you pay for hospital stays and doctor visits, and whether it’s important for you to have expenses balanced throughout the year.

How about convenience?

Your time is valuable. Where are the doctors’ offices? What are their hours? Which pharmacies can you use? Can you get prescriptions by mail? Do the doctors use electronic health records or prescribe electronically?

Quality is important!

Not all health care is created equal, and the doctors, hospitals and facilities you choose can impact your health. Open Enrollment is also a good time to ask yourself whether you’re truly satisfied with your medical care. Look for plans with a 5‑star performance rating—the right expertise and care can make a difference.

Remember that even if you’re happy with your current plan, these answers might change from year to year—so it’s important to take the time to compare. The Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to compare plans based on all of these factors, so you can pick a plan that meets your needs.

Why get the flu when you don’t have to?

As the weather gets colder, flu season is right around the corner. Protect yourself and your loved ones this season by getting your free flu shot.

Get your flu shot early and stay healthy! Flu viruses change from year to year, so it’s important to get a flu shot each flu season. It’s free for people with Medicare, once per flu season when it’s given by doctors or other health care providers (like senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare.

Schedule your flu shot today!

Medicare Open Enrollment is coming soon – add it to your fall checklist

Fall is the perfect time to take care of things around your house—like turning your clocks back and changing smoke detector batteries. Another important item on your fall checklist is Medicare’s Open Enrollment, which runs from October 15–December 7. It’s important that your health plan meets the changing demands in your life, so now’s your chance to review your coverage and see if you need to make any changes for next year. Or, you may decide you’re happy with the plan you have now. If that’s the case, and the plan is still being offered next year, you don’t need to do anything.

Over the next few months, look around—you’ll find a wealth of information about your Medicare benefits, especially in these everyday places:

In the mail

Look through your mail carefully—you may get important notices from your current plan, Medicare, or Social Security about changes to your coverage or any Extra Help you may get paying for prescription drugs.

Also, look for your Medicare & You handbook. It contains information about all of the Medicare plans in your area. If you decided to “go paperless,” you’ll get an email pointing you to where you can get all the same information.

You’ll also start to see brochures from companies that offer Medicare health and drug plans. Just remember, be smart about protecting your personal information and your identity—plans aren’t allowed to call or come to your home without an invitation from you.

On your computer

Comparing your plan choices is important. Our Medicare Plan Finder is ready with all of the 2016 health and drug plan cost information to make it as easy as possible. Enter the drugs you take to find out how you can lower your costs and review the plan’s ratings to compare plan quality. If you find a plan that meets your needs, you’ll be able to join the plan right online starting October 15. If you haven’t used the Plan Finder before, check out our video to help you get started.

In your community

Take a moment as you enjoy these crisp mornings to review the Medicare information that’s out there. You may find a local event—somewhere right around the corner with counselors to help you, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Don’t miss the chance to get personalized help if you need it!

Now’s the time to enjoy the choice and control you have over your health care coverage. Just like fall, Medicare Open Enrollment only comes once a year.

Get your Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs) electronically

Did you know you can now get your MSNs electronically? You can view and print your MSNs online at by signing up for electronic MSNs (eMSNs). With eMSNs, you won’t have to wait 3 months to get your paper MSNs. You’ll get an email each month letting you know that your eMSNs are ready to view and print.

Sign up now for a faster and more convenient way to get your MSNs.

Here are the benefits of signing up:

  • Reduce your mail. No more paper copies to file.
  • Access eMSNs faster at No more searching for where you filed your paper copy.
  • Help Medicare save money by lowering printing costs.
  • Help the environment by going paperless.

Signing up is easy. Visit the “Go paperless” page to find out how to sign up for eMSNs today.

Is it time for your yearly mammogram?

Over 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Getting a yearly mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer early. Mammograms are breast cancer screening tests that can detect a lump before you or your doctor can feel it. This helps to detect breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable. All women over 40 should have a 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.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so let’s join together in the fight against breast cancer.

Guard Your Medicare Number

By Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Program Integrity

Fight health care fraud: guard your Medicare number!

The next Medicare Open Enrollment season (October 15 to December 7) is almost here, which means fraudsters and identity thieves will increase their efforts to get and abuse Medicare numbers from people like you.

Fortunately, there are many measures you can take to fight health care fraud:

  • Guard your Medicare number. Protect it the same way you do for your credit card numbers. Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information. Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email or by approaching you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
  • Don’t ever let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • If you’re looking to enroll in a Medicare plan, be suspicious of anyone who pressures you to act now for the best deal. There are no “early bird discounts” or “limited time offers”. Any offer that sounds too good to be true probably is.
  • Be skeptical of free gifts and free medical services. A common ploy of identity thieves is to say they can send you your free gift right away—they just need your Medicare number to confirm. Decline politely but firmly. Remember, it’s not rude to be shrewd!
  • Do your part to protect your friends and neighbors: remind them to guard their Medicare numbers, too.
  • Check your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) to make sure you and Medicare are only being charged for services you actually had. Instead of waiting for the MSN, which comes in the mail every 3 months, you can access your Original Medicare claims at You’ll usually be able to see a claim within 24 hours after Medicare processes it.

You can report suspected fraud by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. To learn more about how to protect yourself from health care fraud, visit or contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). To find the SMP in your state, go to the SMP Locator at