Read these 10 Medicare Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Medicare tips and hundreds of other topics.
With 10 different Medicare packages and plans, how are you supposed to figure out what is right for you? To make things even more complicated, what is good coverage for you, may not work for your spouse.
In order to enroll for Medicare medical insurance for 2011, you need to apply between November 15 and December 31, 2010. Don't just assume that the coverage you had last year is going to be good enough for this year as there have been many changes. All plans involve premiums, but they are much cheaper than private health insurance coverage.
There are a number of free and fee-based options to allow you to compare plans and to determine which is best for you and for your spouse. Some of them are:
- Medicare has seven different call centers throughout the country to help you determine which will be the best plan for your needs. The number is 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227
- SHIP, or the State Health Insurance Assistance Program can offer you Medicare counseling and assistance through their website
- The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) can put you in touch with over 600 agencies that deal with aging issues including Medicare counseling
- The Medicare Rights Center is another non-profit organization dedicated to helping people navigate the tricky plans
- Allsup is a company that offers Medicare Advisor services, for a fee
Once enrolled in the Medicare program you do have some time in order to make any necessary changes before the plan goes into effect. That being said, don't delay because time is running out.
Navigating the Medicare Advantage plans roadmap may seem a bit daunting if you don't know all the twists and turns. Considering that there are on average 24 plans to choose from, it can be confusing to say the least. A few helpful tips on the different types of plans will give you a clearer vision of the road to arrive at your medical insurance destination safely.
First things first, a Medicare Advantage plan is run by a private insurer. They are essentially the same as the government-run Medicare program, but are a private-company run alternative. There are four main types Medicare Advantage Plans:
• Medicare Health Maintenance Organization (HMOs)
• Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
• Private Fee-for-Service Plans
• Medicare Special Needs Plans
Before deciding on a plan type or individual plan for that matter, consider the following questions: If you are considering a network-based plan, such as a HMO or PPO, are your doctors included in the available network? If they are not, can you go out-of-network for an additional fee? If you have a complicated health situation, this is an important consideration. Are you willing to accept an annual plan -- one that you must renew and choose among plans offered year after year? (With standard Medicare supplemental plans, your coverage remains the same year after year.) Since many seniors are on a fixed income, can you afford the monthly premium? Are the out-of-pocket expenses, such as co-pays, coinsurance and deductibles reasonable?
Lastly, remember that no one Medicare Advantage plan is the best for everyone. Compare Medicare Advantage plans at www.medicare.gov in order to choose the best plan based upon your individual circumstances.
The secret to losing weight is not what you eat but how much you eat. so throw out those crazy diets that eliminate food groups and/or claim that some types of food make you gain weight. The truth is if you eat more calories than your body burns-off you will put on weight whether those calories are from sweets, meat, or vegetables. So don't change you diet, just reduce the amount of food you are eating. A good rule of thumb, you should be able to see about a third of the plate from which you are eating. If you do not know the color of the plate your food is on- you have too much food on it. Disclaimer; While what you eat is not important to weight loss, it is important to maintaining health, eating a diet that includes a wide variety of food, from all food groups will help maintain your health.
Make only one life style change at a time. For example, if you want to improve your health by losing weight, choose the food item that is easiest to give up and start by eating less of it. That's right you just have to eat less of it. To illustrate, if you have been eating ice cream every day, only eat it once a week. When that become easy to do add something else to the list.
Medicare medical insurance is an important health plan that every senior should consider enrolling in at some point after they turn 65. Every senior that turns 65 will be automatically given the chance to have medicare medical insurance but they can decline it off the bat. If they sign up for this insurance after the initial offer, enrolling in it at a later date will cost the senior a late enrollment fee. Medicare medical insurance is another name for Medicare Part B.
Part B is an optional plan that seniors can enroll in if they so wish. If enrolled, patients will need to pay a monthly premium that will help cover the costs of the services offered. Medicare open enrollment in Part B is usually offered to seniors when they enroll in Part A coverage. This plan helps to pay for services and products needed for treatment or doctor's visits that are not paid for by Medicare Part A.
The amount of insurance you can sign up for depends on your income, either single or married, and is determined by the United States government. A change in income for any of the following reasons can change the premium of your insurance premium:
-You got married, you got divorced, or you became widowed
-You stopped working or reduced your work hours, same for your spouse
-You lost property-producing income because of a natural disaster
-You or your spouse received a settlement because of a former employer's bankruptcy or closure
-A termination or reorganization of an employer's pension plan has affected either you or your spouse's value of income
Medicare Health Insurance is a government benefit available to United States citizens who are 65 years or older. People under 65 who suffer from certain disabilities detailed by Medicare are also eligible for Medicare benefits, as are people with End-Stage Renal Disease that calls for dialysis or transplant of one or both kidneys.
Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care or care delivered in a nursing home, Hospice as well as home health care. Part A usually does not require any premiums for coverage if the patient or a spouse has paid Medicare taxes while employed.
Medicare Part B is medical coverage. Part B insures the patient will have outpatient care and home health care coverage as well as doctor's visits. Part B also covers some preventive services including cardiovascular screenings, colon cancer screenings and bone density screenings. Most people will pay a standard premium for Part B coverage. The premium may be more if the patient's tax return in the previous two years is above a certain amount.
Medicare Part C is additional insurance coverage that is usually offered by a third party insurer and is similar to an HMO. It is sometimes called Medicare Advantage. These plans are not supplemental coverage but may offer additional benefits such as vision, dental health and wellness and hearing. The companies that offer this coverage must follow guidelines set forth by Medicare, but may charge varying out of pocket charges for coverage.
Prescription coverage is called Medicare Part D. To acquire or enroll for this type of coverage the patient must join a plan that is administrated by a Medicare approved third party company. Cost for the plans can vary as well as the drugs covered by the plan. To be eligible for Part D a patient must already be enrolled in Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B.
Medicare plan comparisons are rather confusing but the article will attempt to explain them in plain language. Medicare is available to all people over sixty-five who have been residents of the United States for at least five years and have paid in the appropriate taxes for ten years previously. Some disabled people under sixty-five qualify for this coverage as well.
Part A Medicare is hospital insurance, Part B is medical insurance, Part D is for prescription drugs, and Medicare Part C is a designation for Medicare Advantage Plans. Medicare Advantage Plans are similar to HMO health insurance and do not require supplemental Medigap insurance. Medicare benefits must be approved by Medicare and are subject to medical necessity.
Part A Medicare covers the first twenty days of a hospital stay fully, the remaining eighty days require a co-payment. Nursing home benefits are included subject to certain provisions:
Part B insurance covers what is not covered by Part A or Part D. It is mostly used for outpatient services. There is a deductible, after that is met Medicare pays eighty percent of the charges and the patient pays the remaining twenty percent. Part B coverage is complex, highly regulated, and has strict limits for procedures. Part B Medicare is optional for people who are still working.
Part C, as stated previously, is similar to a HMO plan administered by private insurance companies. It usually requires going to specific doctors or hospitals.
Part D Medicare is prescription insurance that is available to anyone enrolled in Part A and B Medicare. Part D is regulated by Medicare but is administered by private health insurance companies.
In closing Medicare plan comparisons are subject to personal needs. People deciding what coverage to use must take age, employment, disposable income, and health into consideration. No one Medicare Plan is suitable for everyone but Medicare does offer choices to all people over sixty-five.
Figuring out which Medicare Plan best suits your needs can be challenging if you don't know your options. When you have the facts, you can easily compare Medicare Plans and make an educated decision that will be best for you.
There are two decisions to make when you compare Medicare plans - Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plan. Let's compare the two Medicare plans.
The Original Medicare option includes Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance) and the option of Part D (prescription drug coverage). A monthly cost is charged to you for the premiums and you get to choose the provider – hospital or doctor.
If you opt for Medicare Part D, you have to choose a Medicare approved private insurance company to become a member of a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
You may also choose to purchase Medigap – Medicare Supplement Insurance - to cover the ‘gaps' of fees that the Original Medicare doesn't cover.
When we compare Medicare plans, we see that the Medicare Advantage Plan is like an HMO or PPO and includes both Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).
Coverage is provided by Medicare approved insurance companies and you must use doctors and hospitals in the plan for services.
Monthly premiums are required in addition to your Part B premiums. If prescription drug coverage is offered by your plan you must use this option. If not, you have the option of the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
When you compare Medicare plans and choose a Medicare Advantage Plan, you won't need to worry about getting a Medigap policy and you if you have one, you may want to cancel it because you can't use it to pay for out-of-pocket expenses with the Medicare Advantage Plan.
When it comes to protecting your Medicare benefits from would-be thieves, stopmedicarefraud.gov offers some valuable tips on what to look out for. First, as with anything in life, beware of providers and companies that offer something for nothing. Whether it's a free wheelchair or free screenings, if anyone asks for your Medicare information in exchange for an offer you can't refuse, that's a good sign it's an offer you must refuse.
Another tactic fraudulent companies employ is telemarketing and door-to-door sales. No one likes to be badgered over the phone or on the front porch and if a salesman is particularly pushy or uses scare tactics to try to close the deal, these are red flags that you're not speaking to a reputable provider.
Keeping an eye out for predators and scams is the first step in protecting your Medicare benefits. Equally important is how you handle your information. When it comes to using the internet, make sure that your security settings are up-to-date so that sensitive information, such as your Social Security Number, Medicare number, and banking and credit card information are protected from online thieves. If you submit your personal information online make sure the website you're visiting is reputable. If the site looks outdated or unprofessional, think twice before spending time there, let alone entering your sensitive information.
In general, don't give out your Medicare information unless you are visiting a doctor, pharmacy or other approved medical service. Stopmedicarefraud.gov also cautions recipients from providing private information to companies who contact you uninvited. It's always better to be safe than sorry. If you receive any unsolicited or suspicious offer and want to verify the source, speak with a representative at Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or 1-877-486-2048 (TTY users).
You do not have to start and ambitious work out program to add more exercise to your life. Althougth it true that the harder you work the more you gain with exercise,for most people slow and steady is more reasonable. In fact research has shown for most people it may even be better over the long run. So start out slow, a daily walk will help you lose weight and feel better. For the couch potato even adding in a five minute walk in the morning and evening will make a difference. Make it fun, bring the dog, your partner, or a friend. Keep in mind that over the long run less is more if you can keep doing it.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|