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
(BPT) - No one really relishes the idea of growing older and experiencing the health issues that can accompany aging. If there was one thing you could do to significantly improve your chances of staying mentally sharp, physically healthy and independent throughout your golden years, wouldn’t you do it?
Exercise has health benefits for people of all ages, and it’s especially important for seniors. Regular exercise can allow people 65 and older to live independently, reduce their risks of falling and breaking bones, and lower their chances of developing serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, joint issues, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet only about 40 percent of Americans between 65 and 74 meet physical activity guidelines, and activity levels decrease even more as people grow older, the CDC says.
“Everyone wants to discover the fountain of youth, that medicine or treatment or face cream that will keep them looking and feeling great well into old age,” says Brian Zehetner, director of health and fitness for Planet Fitness and co-author of “Working Out Sucks (And Why It Doesn’t Have To).” “But that secret has already been discovered. It’s exercise, and it works just as well for senior citizens as it does for people of any age group.”
If you’ve never really exercised before, or want to increase your current exercise level, you may have thought about joining a gym. You may have even walked into one intending to join — and walked right back out when you saw it was crowded with young, fit people. Your experience wouldn’t be unique; a Planet Fitness survey of seniors who don’t go to the gym found more than a third say they find the gym intimidating, and more than half of those who are intimidated say they fear being judged by other members.
“We call that ‘gym-timidation,’” Zehetner says. “It’s that feeling that others in the gym will judge you for being less than perfect, and it can keep people of all ages, including seniors, from getting the exercise they need. But it doesn’t have to.”
People older than 60 who exercise on a weekly basis feel 12.3 years younger than their real age, the Planet Fitness survey found. In comparison, those who don’t exercise claim to feel only 5.6 years younger than their actual age. Gym-going seniors say they go to feel better physically (91 percent), live a longer life (70 percent), feel better mentally (64 percent) and socialize (37 percent).
Zehetner offers some advice for seniors to overcome gym-timidation:
* Start slowly. Whether you’re new to exercise in general or just new to a gym environment, everyone has limitations. It’s important to know and respect yours. It’s frustrating to injure yourself while trying to improve your health, and as you get older it takes longer to recover from injuries. Be safe and smart by going slowly, and establishing a foundation that encompasses cardiovascular conditioning, strength training and flexibility.
* Don’t be afraid to ask for help. New and unfamiliar exercise equipment can be intimidating, but it’s important to work out safely. Your gym’s trainers and staff are there to help ensure you know how to use the equipment safely and effectively.
* Don’t be too distressed or discouraged by discomfort. People of all ages can experience stiff joints, muscle soreness and other minor discomforts when they begin to exercise. These are all signs your body is aware of the stress you’re putting it through and is responding and adapting — it’s part of the process of getting more fit. Exercise will become easier over time, and it won’t take you as long to recover from discomfort.
* Find a workout buddy. Having a friend along can be motivational when you try something new. Even better, working out side-by-side with a buddy can help you measure the intensity of your workout. If you can carry on a conversation while working out, you’re getting a moderate level of activity. If you can’t talk without pausing for breath every few words, you’re getting a more vigorous workout.
* Take advantage of special promotions to try out a gym to see if it’s the right one for you. In honor of National Senior Citizens Day on Sunday, Aug. 21, anyone 60 and older can work out at a Planet Fitness location for free between Sunday, Aug. 21 and Wednesday, Aug. 31. If you decide to join a participating location, you can take advantage of a promotional pre-paid rate of just $99 for the whole year. Visit www.planetfitness.com to learn more.
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