Donors save lives

Each year, about 8,000 people die waiting for an organ transplant, and just one donor can save and heal up to 75 lives through organ and tissue donation. Today, there are more than 120,000 patients waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and many more who need cornea, tissue, bone marrow, blood, and platelet donations.

There are 2 ways to become a donor:

  1. Deceased organ donors – can donate both kidneys, liver, both lungs, heart, pancreas, and intestines.
  2. Living organ donor – can donate one kidney, one lung, or a portion of the liver, pancreas, or intestines.

Over 80% of people on the transplant list need a kidney transplant, usually due to permanent kidney failure or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Medicare covers kidney transplants for both the person getting the transplant and the donor. If you’re getting the transplant, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor services. You pay nothing if you’re the living donor.

National Donor Day is February 14th. Give the gift of life this Valentine’s Day, and sign up to be an organ donor.

Wear red – support women’s fight against heart disease

Did you know that every minute, heart disease takes the life of a woman in the United States? Heart disease doesn’t affect every woman in the same way, but there are signs to look for and ways to help prevent it.

Medicare covers cardiovascular disease screenings every 5 years for people with Part B. Quitting smoking also helps lower your risk of heart disease, and Medicare covers smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling for people with Part B.

National Wear Red Day is February 2nd. Support the women in your life and #WearRedandGive.

Show your heart some love this Valentine’s Day

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 for both men and women, taking about 630,000 lives each year.

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

Medicare covers a cardiovascular disease 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’ve had a heart condition, like a heart attack or heart transplant, Medicare covers cardiac rehabilitation programs that include exercise, education, and counseling.

If 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.

February is American Heart Month, so show your heart some love by visiting the Million Hearts Learn & Prevent center. Here, you can find your possible risks for heart disease, and resources, like heart-healthy recipes to help keep your heart strong. Million Hearts is a national initiative to help keep people healthy, optimize care, and improve outcomes for priority populations.

While you’re celebrating with loved ones this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to show your heart some love, too.

New Medicare cards protect your personal information

Starting in April 2018, Medicare will mail new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare, to help protect you from identity fraud. Fraudsters are always looking for ways to get your Social Security Number so we’re removing Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards to make them safer.

Your new card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you. The new card will help protect your identity and keep your personal information more secure. Your Medicare coverage and benefits stay the same.

And there’s more good news—Medicare will automatically mail your new card at no cost to the address you have on file with Social Security. There’s nothing you need to do! If you need to update your official mailing address, visit your online my Social Security account.

Once you get your new Medicare card, take these 3 steps to make it harder for someone to steal your information and identity:

  1. Destroy your old Medicare card right away.
  2.  Use your new card. Doctors, other health care providers, and plans approved by Medicare know that Medicare is replacing the old cards. They are ready to accept your new card when you need care.
  3. Beware of people contacting you about your new Medicare card and asking you for your Medicare Number, personal information, or to pay a fee for your new card. Treat your Medicare Number like you treat your Social Security or credit card numbers. Remember, Medicare will never contact you uninvited to ask for your personal information.

For more information about your new Medicare card, visit go.medicare.gov/newcard. You can also visit Medicare.gov for tips to prevent Medicare fraud.

Focus on keeping your vision clear

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can cause permanent vision loss and blindness. Some forms of glaucoma don’t have any symptoms, so you may still have glaucoma even if you don’t have any trouble seeing or feel any pain. If you find and get treatment for glaucoma early, you can protect your eyes from serious vision loss.

January is glaucoma awareness month, and it’s the perfect time to check and see if you’re at high risk. You’re at high risk for glaucoma if one or more of these applies to you:

  • You have diabetes.
  • You have a family history of glaucoma.
  • You’re African American and 50 or older.
  • You’re Hispanic and 65 or older.

Medicare will cover a glaucoma test once every 12 months if you’re at high risk. Talk to your doctor or eye doctor for more information about scheduling a test.

To learn more, read about glaucoma, or watch our glaucoma awareness video.

Find cervical cancer early—get screened

Over 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Early treatment is key, and fortunately, it’s one of the easiest female cancers to detect.

Medicare covers Pap tests, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) tests (as part of Pap tests), and pelvic exams that can help find cervical and vaginal cancer early and improve recovery and survival rates. Pap tests are covered every 24 months for all women, and every 12 months if you’re at high risk. Medicare covers HPV tests once every 5 years if you’re 30–65 without HPV symptoms.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to get screened. Watch our Cervical Health Awareness Month video, and visit our cervical & vaginal cancer screenings page to learn more about these tests.

Stop the flu before it stops you

Flu season is back, which means it’s time to protect yourself and loved ones by getting a free flu shot.

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 you get it by doctors or other health care providers (like senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare.

National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 3–9. Don’t let the flu stop you from enjoying the holidays. Get your free flu shot today!