It’s always time to quit tobacco

Smoking tobacco can cause many health problems, including heart disease, respiratory diseases, and lung cancer —the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Close to 40 million people in the U.S. still smoke tobacco, but quitting can help prevent these health problems. You can quit smoking today, and Medicare wants to help.

Besides being famous for Thanksgiving, November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the Great American Smokeout. 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.

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. Watch our video to learn more about Medicare’s benefits to help you quit.

 

 

 

 

COPD – Learn more, breathe better

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases that cause breathing problems, like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. People with COPD are more likely to have difficulty walking or climbing stairs, be unable to work, and have other chronic diseases, like diabetes or heart disease.

To help you detect COPD early, when treatment works best, Medicare Part B covers a lung cancer screening with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) once per year if you meet all of these conditions:

  • You’re 55-77.
  • You’re asymptomatic (you don’t have signs or symptoms of lung cancer).
  • You’re either a current smoker or have quit smoking in the last 15 years.
  • You have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years).
  • You get a written order from their doctor.

You pay nothing for this service if your doctor accepts assignment.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with moderate to severe COPD, Part B covers a pulmonary rehabilitation program. These services help you breathe better, make you stronger, and help you live more independently. As long as you have Part B and a referral from your doctor, you’re covered.

November is National COPD Awareness Month, and you can breathe easy knowing Medicare is here to help.

Saving money on health care costs: Extra Help

If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program. You might be able to get help paying your Medicare drug plan’s monthly premiums, yearly deductibles, and prescription copayments. Drug costs in 2018 for most people who qualify will be no more than $3.35 for each generic drug and $8.35 for each brand-name drug.

Even if you’re not sure you’d qualify, it’s worth filling out an application. Many people with Medicare may be eligible for Extra Help but don’t know it. You or a family member could be one of them.

It’s easy and free to apply for Extra Help. Here’s how:

Don’t wait—apply today to see if you qualify for some Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug costs.

Know when to use antibiotics

It’s that time again—flu season! If you get sick, antibiotics won’t always help you. If you get a cold or flu, antibiotics could do more harm than good. That’s because these are viral infections, and antibiotics only cure bacterial infections. Every time you take antibiotics, they kill sensitive bacteria, but resistant germs can survive to grow and multiply. These resistant germs are called “antibiotic-resistant,” and they can lead to severe infections, hospitalizations, and death, especially among people over 65.

This week is Antibiotic Awareness Week. Here are 3 things you can do to make sure you’re using antibiotics the right way:

  1. Always talk to your doctor before taking an antibiotic to be sure it will treat the infection you have.
  1. Take antibiotics only to treat bacterial infections. 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. Never take antibiotics for a viral infection, like a cold, cough, or flu. Antibiotics won’t cure your virus, they won’t keep those around you from getting sick, and they won’t help you feel better. In fact, taking antibiotics when you have a virus may increase your risk of getting an antibiotic-resistant infection later.

Antibiotics won’t help you recover from a cold or flu, but you can keep yourself from catching the major flu viruses by getting your flu shot! It’s free for people with Medicare, once per flu season when given by doctors or other health care providers (like senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare.

Keep your body strong against germs and infections, and learn when antibiotics can work for you!

Caregivers need help, too

Are you caring for an aged, ill, or disabled family member? If so, you’re one of about 43.5 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness, disability, or frailty. Family caregivers provide an average of 24 hours of care per week – when you’re the caregiver, that can make it hard to care for yourself.

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 3 things you can do this month to help you help your loved one:

  1. Visit Acl.gov to find programs and resources that can help support you.
  2. 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.
  3. Find resources near you by visiting the Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator.

This month is also a perfect opportunity to make sure you are getting the care you need for yourself. If you or someone you’re caring for is uninsured, learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Medicare Open Enrollment: The Value of Convenience

When choosing a health plan, sometimes convenience matters. In addition to cost, coverage, and benefits, here are some other things you may want to consider as you compare Medicare options this year:

Doctor and hospital choice

Do your doctors accept the coverage? Do you pay less if you choose your hospital and health care providers from the plan’s network?

Pharmacy access

Is the pharmacy you use included in your drug plan’s network? Do they use e-prescribing? Can you get refills by mail? Remember that plan networks can change from year to year. If it’s important to you to stay with the same pharmacy, it’s worth checking to make sure they’ll still be in your plan’s network.

Travel

Maybe you travel a lot, or spend part of the year in a different state. If you do, see if your plan will cover you when you’re in all the states where you travel.

Quality

Ask yourself if you’re happy with your current plan and the coverage you have to meet your needs. Not all health care is created equal, and the doctors, hospitals and facilities you choose can impact your health. Look for plans with a 5‑star performance rating—the right expertise and care may help speed your recovery and improve your health outcomes.

Your time is valuable—and so is your health. Only you know what mix of coverage and convenience is most important to you and your family.

We’re working hard to make sure you have choices in the way you get your Medicare benefits. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to look at all of the health and drug plan options in your area.

Hospice care: Supporting you and your family

There are many difficult decisions that come with a terminal illness, like considering whether hospice is right for you. The thought of hospice can be scary, but it’s important to learn about your options.

Medicare covers hospice care to help terminally ill patients spend the last moments of their lives with dignity and comfort, among loved ones. Hospice focuses on comfort or “palliative care,” not curing an illness.

  • Deciding whether hospice care is right for you can be a difficult choice to make, and it’s important to be informed about what hospice covers. Once you choose hospice care, your hospice benefit should cover everything you need.

Here are a few of the services hospice provides:

  • Care in your home. A specially-trained team of professionals and caregivers provide care for the “whole person,” including your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
  • Physical care, counseling, drugs, equipment, and supplies for the terminal illness and related conditions.
  • Support for family caregivers.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a good time to learn more about the care and support available to people who are terminally ill.