Here are five tips to help ensure you get the most out of your Medicare coverage this year. Learn how by reading the full Medium article here.
(BPT) - Every year, many seniors are targeted by scammers who want to steal their Medicare numbers to do things like rack up fake health care charges and commit identity theft. These scams hurt seniors and other people eligible for Medicare, cost taxpayers money, and result in higher health care costs for everyone. The good news is that you can protect yourself from fraud and help Medicare stop scammers in their tracks.
How to Spot Medicare Fraud
The first step in protecting yourself from Medicare fraud is knowing how to spot it. Over time, scammers have become very sophisticated and advanced. One of the latest scams you should look out for concerns genetic testing. Scammers are offering “free” genetic tests and claiming Medicare will cover it — so they can get your Medicare number and use it to commit fraud and identity theft. Other Medicare scams include offers for free or reduced-price medical equipment, consultations, or health services. These scams can happen anywhere, including through telemarketing calls, health fairs, and even knocking on doors.
Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) removed Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards. Even with this change, people with Medicare should still guard their Medicare card and treat it like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and be wary of any unsolicited requests for your Medicare number. Medicare will never call beneficiaries to ask for or check Medicare numbers.
To protect yourself from Medicare fraud, keep these things to “do” and “don’t do” in mind:
Reporting Medicare Fraud
If you think you may have spotted fraud, you should report it right away. No matter how minimal the information you share is, it could be the missing piece to stopping the next fraud scheme. If you are a victim of fraud, know that you won’t be penalized or lose your coverage for reporting it. Even if you are not a victim, it’s important to report any fraud scams you encounter to Medicare. Report suspected fraud by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or online through the Office of the Inspector General.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Even if you’ve worked hard to save for retirement and create the financial security you want in the future, the need for long-term care could throw a wrench into even the most well-thought-out plans and impact you and your loved ones’ finances. Consider these questions as you begin the long-term care planning process.
5 Questions to Ask When Planning for Long-Term Care
(Family Features) You may not want to consider a time when you might not be able to fully take care of yourself, but the reality is there is almost a 70% chance someone turning 65 today will need some type of long-term care service and support in his or her lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Even if you’ve worked hard to save for retirement and create the financial security you want in the future, the need for long-term care could throw a wrench into even the most well-thought-out plans and impact you and your loved ones’ finances.
Consider these questions as you begin the long-term care planning process.
What is long-term care?
When should you start thinking about long-term care planning?
How much does long-term care cost?
Long-term care is generally not covered by health insurance, and government programs like Medicare or Medicaid have limitations, which often isn’t discovered until care is needed. However, New York Life offers long-term care options to AARP members and provides specially trained agents who can provide guidance. The agents can work with you and your family to create a customized plan based on your financial goals, helping protect your assets should you ever require long-term care.
Where is care provided?
How much coverage do you need?
While planning for long-term care can seem daunting, you can find more benefits and information to make the process easier at aarp.org/benefits.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
AARP Services, Inc.
Over the past few years, DNA tests have become more popular across the country. However, unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the buzz around these tests to scam Medicare beneficiaries. To avoid being scammed, consider this advice.
Beware of ‘Free Genetic Testing’ Medicare Scam
(Family Features) Over the past few years, DNA tests have become more popular across the country. However, unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the buzz around these tests to scam Medicare beneficiaries.
Scammers target Medicare beneficiaries through telemarketing calls, booths at public events, health fairs and door-to-door visits. They offer “free” genetic testing to help recipients avoid diseases or find the right medications.
The scammers claim the testing is covered by Medicare, and therefore is free to the beneficiary. In reality, Medicare only covers genetic testing in limited situations, and only when ordered by the beneficiary’s physician. If a company bills Medicare for genetic testing, and Medicare denies the claim, the beneficiary could be responsible for the entire cost of the test, which can total around $10,000.
In other cases, the scammers are simply trying to obtain Medicare numbers they can use to steal a beneficiary’s medical identity or to fraudulently bill Medicare for services they did not provide. Such fraud can hurt not just Medicare beneficiaries, but all American taxpayers who contribute to Medicare.
To avoid being scammed, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) offers this advice to beneficiaries:
If you received a cheek swab or screening that was not ordered by a trusted provider or have concerns about billing errors or possible fraud, contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). The SMP program, funded by ACL, helps Medicare beneficiaries protect themselves from fraud, errors and abuse, and detect and report problems if and when they occur. To find your local SMP, visit smpresource.org or call 1-877-808-2468.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Administration for Community Living
(BPT) - As we get older, the ones we love inevitably age too. For many, there comes a time where you are no longer just a son, daughter or family member — you’re a caregiver. Ensuring your aging parent or loved one is able to manage and afford their medical treatments can have an enormous impact on their health and quality of life.
Dan Klein, president and CEO of the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, the largest independent charitable organization dedicated to helping people pay their out-of-pocket costs for prescribed treatments, offers five simple ways you can help an aging family member manage their treatment — so you can both live healthier and happier lives.
1. Meet with their doctor or healthcare provider.
Building a relationship with their healthcare provider will help lay the groundwork for future communication and care management. Before attending an appointment, talk to your parent or family member about their needs and concerns, make a list of the medications they are taking and the renewals they may need and determine together what you’d like to accomplish. If drug costs are a financial burden, don’t be shy about asking for samples or if there are less expensive generic equivalents available.
2. Check in with the pharmacist.
Connecting with your parent or family member’s pharmacist is an excellent way to become familiar with their treatment plan and ask questions about potential side effects and interactions of prescribed drugs. Be sure to ask about mail order options offered by some insurance plans and specialty pharmacies, which can save money and time by delivering a three-month supply of medication directly to their home.
3. De-clutter the medicine cabinet.
It is common for those struggling with chronic or multiple illnesses, particularly in old age, to have multiple prescriptions from different healthcare providers, each with complicated regimens that may make it difficult to keep track of what pills to take and when. You can help by ensuring their medicines are organized, accessible and stored appropriately.
Auditing their medicine cabinet is a good place to start. Make note of anything that is running low and order refills where needed. You can visit fda.gov for information on how to appropriately dispose of medications that have expired or are no longer necessary.
A pill organizer box can help keep track of complicated treatment schedules and reduce the risk of missing a dose or doses. Free pill reminder apps, such as Medisafe Pill & Med Reminder, allow you to manage the accounts of multiple family members.
4. Review Medicare or insurance coverage.
Diagnoses and treatments can frequently change and it’s therefore important to ensure your parent or family member’s Medicare or insurance plan still meets their needs. It is worth paying particular attention to their prescription drug plan, which can differ year to year. Online tools, like The National Council on Aging’s Benefits Checkup Tool and Medicare Interactive sponsored by the Medicare Rights Center can help you review benefits and find the best option for them.
They may also be eligible for other Medicare programs — like a Low-Income Subsidy — that can lower out-of-pocket costs.
5. Find out if charitable financial assistance is available.
The PAN Foundation is one of several charities that provides financial assistance for out-of-pocket costs. You can learn more about patient assistance charities at panfoundation.org. You can also download FundFinder, a free app developed by the PAN Foundation that notifies you when assistance becomes available from any of the major charitable patient assistance foundations.
Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs. To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps.
Protect Your Health and Your Card
Making the most of Medicare Open Enrollment
(Family Features) Eating well and regular exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, and so is making sure you have the right health care coverage. Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs.
During Medicare Open Enrollment, which runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2017, you can enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2018. If you miss the deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your plan.
To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps:
1. Review your current plan notice. Read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.
2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Does your current plan cover your new medication? Does another plan offer the same coverage at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.
3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums (through Medicare Savings Programs), your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs (through Extra Help). Visit Medicare.gov or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more.
4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting each October, you can use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see what plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:
If you find your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.
For more information, visit medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language. You can also get personalized health insurance counseling at no cost to you from your local SHIP by visiting shiptacenter.org. More information about Medicare is available on the Medicare Facebook page and by following @MedicareGov on Twitter.
Protect Your Medicare Card
Protect your identity as well as your health by guarding your Medicare card like you would a credit card. Medicare is aiding in the fight against Medicare fraud by removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards and replacing them with a new, unique number for each person with Medicare. Medicare will mail the new cards with unique numbers between April 2018-April 2019. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft:
If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.SOURCE:
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Do mature women who desire to dress fashionably for summer really have to choose between “frumpy and fogey” or “too young and trendy?” Not at all, says Catherine Brock, who blogs about style on thebudgetfashionista.com.
(BPT) - Muumuus and mom jeans or spangled capris and Aloha shirts — is this really all the fashion world has to offer women over the age of 60? Do mature women who desire to dress fashionably for summer really have to choose between “frumpy and fogey” or “too young and trendy?”
Not at all, says Catherine Brock, who blogs about style on thebudgetfashionista.com.
“Reaching a certain age doesn’t mean you have to give up your love of fashion, or that you can’t be stylish,” Brock says. “In our youth-obsessed society, many fashion trends are geared for young women, but truly stylish clothing can work for women of any age.”
Joyce Williams (name changed to protect her privacy), a resident of Brookdale Belle Meade Senior Living Community in Nashville, Tennessee, agrees. Williams didn’t leave her lifelong love of fashion behind upon moving into the senior community. Instead, she remains an avid reader of fashion magazines, and designs and makes her own jewelry to accessorize her wardrobe. She happily shares fashion advice with other residents who seek to remain stylish after 60.
Here are some of Brock’s and Williams' favorite tips and insights for senior women:
* Senior women can have trouble finding fashion images that feature women who could be their peers, Brock says. Because most clothing is marketed with images of younger models, many older women may worry about their clothes being “age-appropriate.” Don’t be limited by that kind of thinking, she advises. The age of the model wearing the fashion is far less important than whether the style will work for you.
* Look for garments that have a defined shape. You don’t have to wear form-fitting clothing, but do avoid overalls or baggy, pull-on pants and maxi dresses with no waistline, Brock advises.
* Find your colors, Williams suggests. Everyone has certain colors that complement their skin tone, hair and eyes, and others that are less flattering. Determine which ones are yours and emphasize those colors in your wardrobe. Brock also counsels against putting too many colors in a single outfit, and says avoid wild color patterns. Instead, pick one piece in an outfit to make a color statement and use muted, complementary colors in the rest of the outfit to create a backdrop for your statement color.
* Just as important as knowing your best colors, you should also know the visual line that looks best for your body type, Williams says. For example, if you’re pear-shaped, a line that draws attention to your shoulders can be flattering, Brock adds. Apple-shaped women may find an A-line skirt flattering since it creates an angle from the shoulder to the waist.
* Stay true to your own personal style, regardless of your age. “If you had a well-established personal style when you were younger, it doesn’t need to change just because you’re older,” Brock says. “If anything, as you age, you can pay more attention to your personal style and be less of a slave to the season’s trends.” Adapt your younger style to your more mature place in life by focusing on creating outfits that make only one statement at a time, she advises. For example, wear that big, chunky turquoise necklace that you’ve always loved and pair it with an outfit that’s simple and straightforward like a pair of tailored jeans and a white blouse.
* Some styles work particularly well for senior women, Brock says. Blazers and cardigans pair well with V-neck tops, sheath dresses, shift dresses and button-down shirts. “In warmer months, V-neck tops with elbow-length sleeves are the new T-shirt for seniors,” she says. “Just add a necklace for a little sparkle.” Plus, every senior woman should have wardrobe staples such as a black blazer, white button-down shirt, dark-wash jeans, straight-leg trousers, neutral-colored cardigans, a collection of dolman-sleeve tops and T-shirts with varying sleeve lengths and necklines.
* Never underestimate the power of great accessories, Williams says. The right jewelry can turn an ordinary outfit into something stunning, and you can change the entire look of an outfit simply by switching around your accessories.
“It’s never too late to discover your personal style,” Brock says. “Start by creating a Pinterest board and saving looks you love (get a fashion-minded younger friend to help if you’re not tech-savvy). Then reacquaint yourself with your body type and go shopping with a friend. Try on different cuts of pants, skirts and dresses until you both agree on which are the most flattering. Find the cuts that look good on you and then start experimenting with colors and textures.”
(BPT) - Kristen Beatty’s 78-year-old father, Ray, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 10 years ago. Since then, he has developed a sense of paranoia, insomnia and the delusion that people are stealing from him. Though Beatty and her brother constantly reassure their father to allay his fears, the daily struggle can take its toll. Beatty’s mother, Sue, had previously cared for Ray for about five years. In 2012, Sue died unexpectedly of a heart attack, or as Beatty puts it, she died of a broken heart.
“She was exhausted from the constant care and the pressure that came with it,” Beatty said. “She was eating super healthy, walking every day and taking very good care of herself, so I truly believe it was the stress. My brother and I feel guilty because we could have supported her better, but she wouldn’t ask for help. She wouldn’t consider moving him to a facility or going to support groups.”
The stress and the pressure Beatty’s mother faced is not unlike the experiences of millions of other Alzheimer’s caregivers around the nation, who primarily care for people with the disease because of their desire to keep their family member at home, their proximity to the person with dementia or their perceived obligation — all pressures that can lead to harsh consequences for caregivers.
For example, more than one in three caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias report their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, compared with one out of five caregivers for older people without dementia. And depression and anxiety are more common among dementia caregivers than among people providing care for individuals with certain other conditions.
These findings are part of the Alzheimer’s Association "2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report," released recently. The report analyzes new research about cost, prevalence, incidence, caregiving, and mortality and morbidity. The report found a dramatic surge in deaths from Alzheimer’s — the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Meanwhile, deaths from other major causes are decreasing. Between 2000 and 2014, deaths from heart disease decreased 14 percent, but deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 89 percent.
Another finding was the growing cost burden of Alzheimer’s. For the first time ever, it now costs over a quarter of a trillion dollars ($259 billion) annually to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States — $56 billion of which is coming right from individuals’ pockets.
According to the report, out-of-pocket costs for people affected by Alzheimer’s are startlingly high, despite support from Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, annual per-person payments for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are almost five times higher ($10,315) than those for seniors without these conditions ($2,232).
According to Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association, providing ongoing support for the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s will need to remain a national policy priority moving forward, as the population at risk for Alzheimer’s is projected to nearly double from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.
“As the number of people with Alzheimer’s continues to grow, so does the impact and cost of providing care to our health system and the millions of unpaid caregivers,” Kallmyer said. “While we’ve seen increases in federal research funding and access to critical care planning and support services, there’s still an urgent need to expand options and support for family-centered and community care and to fund more research that can bring us closer to effective treatment options and, ultimately, a cure.”
To read the full Facts and Figures report, visit www.alz.org/facts. For comprehensive information, support and resources on Alzheimer’s caregiving, visit www.alz.org/care/overview.asp.
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