Your mind matters – and Medicare is here to help!

Reminders to take care of your physical health are all around you– on the web, in television ads, and from concerned family members. What you may not remember is that taking care of your mental health is just as important! May is National Mental Health Month, so we’re making an effort to spread the word about all of the mental health resources available to people with Medicare.

Medicare helps cover outpatient and inpatient mental health care, as well as partial hospitalization and screenings for depression. If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage, you can also get medications to help treat a mental health condition.

Mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. If you experience mental health problems your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected.

- Mental health problems are common and can be caused by many factors:

- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry

- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse

- Family history of mental health problems

 

Remember: taking care of your health is about more than just your physical health – it’s about taking care of all of you! Medicare is here to help you take care of your mental health, and remind you that you’re not alone — we’re here to support you.

Protect yourself from Hepatitis B

Did you know that 1.2 million people in the U.S. have chronic Hepatitis B, but many more people don’t know they’re infected because they have no symptoms? Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

Medicare can help keep you protected from Hepatitis B. The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting the Hepatitis B vaccine, which is usually given as 3 shots over a 6-month period. You need to get all 3 shots for complete coverage. If you’re at high or medium risk for Hepatitis B, Medicare Part B will cover Hepatitis B shots for free.

Are you at risk for getting Hepatitis B? If you have hemophilia, End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), diabetes, or certain conditions that lower your resistance to infection, you have a higher risk for getting Hepatitis B increases. Additionally, if you have a profession that puts you in frequent contact with blood or bodily fluids, you may be at a higher risk.

May is Hepatitis Awareness month. To find out more about preventing and treating Hepatitis B, visit the Centers for Disease Control.

What’s your blood pressure?

Do you have a minute to keep your heart and kidneys healthy?  Getting a fast (less than a minute) and simple test can tell you if your blood pressure is too high.  High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, but it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.  Medicare helps make checking your blood pressure easy because it’s covered in your “Welcome to Medicare” and Yearly Wellness  visits at no cost to you.

If you have high blood pressure, you can control it with lifestyle changes and medicine.  You may be at risk for high blood pressure if you:

  • Smoke
  • Eat salty foods
  • Don’t exercise enough
  • Drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure
  • Are overweight

May is National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, so get tested and keep your heart and kidneys healthy!

Alcohol misuse, it’s okay to talk about it

 “Risky drinking” is defined as more than 21 drinks per month according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the American Geriatrics Society. Did you know that 9% of people with Medicare drink more than 30 drinks a month?

There are lots of changes that happen with age, and some of them, like physical pain, loss of mobility, and loneliness can lead to alcohol misuse.  Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, bad interactions with medications, and some types of cancer. 

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to remind you that Medicare covers alcohol misuse screening & counselling to provide counselling for people who misuse alcohol.

Making complaints less complex

We hope every healthcare experience you have is a positive one. That’s why we offer you a variety of tools to express your concerns. One of those tools is the ability to file a complaint (sometimes called a “grievance”).

Do you have a complaint?

If you have a concern or a problem that isn’t a request for coverage or reimbursement, you have the right to file a complaint. Not sure if you need to file a complaint or an appeal? Read some examples of situations where you might need to file a complaint.

Things to know before you file a complaint:

Each plan has specific rules you’ll need to know and follow when filing a complaint. If, after filing a complaint, your plan doesn’t address the issue, call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance. You can also call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free, personalized help filing a complaint.

Information you’ll need to have ready when you file a complaint:

Basic information about you

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • State you live in
  • Zip code
  • Email address
  • Preferred call back time, phone number, and response language

Medicare card information

  • Medicare number
  • Effective date

Health or drug plan information

  • Your health or drug plan name
  • Your health or drug plan contract ID

Complaint topic

  • Benefits
  • Prescription drugs
  • Services
  • Something else

Medicare’s Blue Button can help

The Blue Button provides you an easy way to download your personal health information to a file. You can download the file of your personal data and save the file on your own personal computer. You can access the Blue Button through your account on MyMedicare.gov.

At risk for diabetes? Take this test.

Diabetes affects millions of people – are you one of them? Tuesday, March 25 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day – a great time to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes – a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults. Many people with diabetes don’t know that they have it, but Medicare covers screening tests so you can find out if you do. 

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.

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

This spring, put prevention into practice

The start 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 so you can you stay healthy, live longer, and delay or prevent many diseases.