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October 4, 2019
It's Medicare time! Looking to change your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for 2020? You need to know this information first!
September 4, 2019
Hurricane Dorian is moving up the South-East Coast of Florida and Millions of People have been evacuated. What happens if you forgot your medicine at home? What happens if you were receiving physical therapy at home and you had to relocate to a relative's house in Michigan? On today's show.....I answer these and other important questions.. regarding Medicare benefits when there is a public health emergency.
August 2, 2019
With two Shingles Vaccines currently available in the U.S., how do you know which one to get? Today, I will discuss both vaccines to help you understand your choices.
July 5, 2019
Have you ever been nervous when the nurse takes your blood pressure at the Doctor's Office? I have! When you're nervous, your blood pressure may go up naturally. Medicare has now authorized using Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitors to help detect high blood pressure in Medicare Beneficiaries. Find out if you qualify for this Diagnostic Exam next... on Medicare Nation.
June 21, 2019
What happens when you are overcharged a co-pay for seeing your Primary Doctor? You should receive a refund. What happens if thousands of people are being overcharged a co-pay to see their primary doctor, while on a Medicare Advantage Plan? CMS audits that MAPD and if found guilty... sanctions are applied! That's what happened to Agewell New York LLC with their LIVEWell Medicare Advantage Plan. Find out how much the fine was and what you can do if you were overcharged a co-pay by listening to today's show.
June 14, 2019
You've seen the commercials on TV about ColoGuard, but does Medicare cover the at-home stool sample test? There are several different preventative tests available, let's find out if ColoGuard is one of them.
May 31, 2019
Is a Reverse Mortgage an option for you? Are Reverse Mortgages even Safe? Will I have to give my home to the Lender? These are all questions I hear from my Medicare Clients. Michael Banner, President of Professional Mortgage Alliance LLC, discusses the TRUTH about Reverse Mortgages and answers my many questions about them.
May 17, 2019
Medicare Supplement Plans currently come in eight different varieties. With Plan F and Plan C availability ending for newly turned 65 y.o. after January 1, 2020....Beneficary's are asking...what's the best plan for me? Today, I cover the differences between Supplement Plan G and Supplement Plan N.
April 15, 2019
Which plan is better...PLan F or High Deductible Plan F? That depends on your needs. I'm telling you the differences between them, so you will understand which plan may be better for you.
March 15, 2019
Many Medicare Nation listeners have been emailing me to find out if Medicare covers "Emergencies" while traveling across the U.S. or abroad. When you are traveling anywhere in the U.S. you ARE covered in an Emergency. When traveling outside the U.S, things are VERY different. This episode will help you understand Medicare coverge for Emergencies while traveling abroad.
January 11, 2019
Learn about the New CMS regulation for Medicare Advantage Plans effective January 1, 2019. It's called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. Do you qualify?
November 16, 2018
What's new for Medicare Prescription Drug Plans in 2019? Do you have the coverage that will suit your unique needs for 2019? Listen to this episode and find out.
October 13, 2018
When Social Security authorizes a COLA raise, that is the signal that Medicare Part B Premiums may also rise. For 2019, that's exactly what happened. Let's take a look at the 2019 Medicare Premiums & Deductibles. Medicare Part A In 2019, the Medicare Part A Deductible for being an inpatient in the hospital is going up to $1,364.00 in 2019. LIsten to hear more about Part B Premiums and Deductibles.
August 24, 2018
The FDA has issued a "Voluntary Recall" on Westminster Pharmaceuticals of all lots of their Levothyroxine and Liothyronine (Thyroid Tablets).
June 22, 2018
The topic of Medical Marijuana is BOOMING! I had to bring back Dr. Rachna Patel to update us on what's going on in the Medical Marijuana Community. Currently, there are 9 States, plus the District of Columbia (DC), that have "Legalized" the "Recreational" use of Marijuana. Listen to which States have legalized Recreational Usage of Marijuana.
May 25, 2018
Foot Drop is a weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot. 99% of People Don't Know About Medical Devices to Help Them Walk
April 13, 2018
NEW MEDICARE CARDS are being mailed now. Your New Medicare Cards…….which are now called “Medicare Beneficiary Identifier” or MBI……have started mailing! When are you scheduled to receive your new Medicare Card?
February 2, 2018
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the Special Election Period (SEP) for Medicare Beneficiaries affected by the California Wildfires to March 31, 2018.
January 19, 2018
Currently, it is the Medicare Advantage Plan "Disenrollment Period." The current Disenrollment Period runs from January 1st through February 14th each year. During this time, you can "drop" your Medicare Advantage Plan and go back onto Original Medicare.
November 18, 2017
CMS finally announces the 2018 Medicare Part A & Part B Premium and Deductibles. Part B Premiums SPIKE for majority of Medicare beneficiaries.
November 3, 2017
You may qualify for a Medicare Special Enrollment Period due to a weather related disaster. The special election period runs till December 31, 2017.
October 6, 2017
You may qualify for government programs to assist in paying for Medicare deductibles, copays as well as help with Prescription Drug costs.
October 1, 2017
What kind of costs will you incur for your prescription drugs in 2018? CMS has published the Part D costs for 2018 and they aren't too bad. Do you have an annual deductible for prescription drugs on your Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan? How about on your stand-alone prescription drug plan? Have any of your prescription drugs been removed from your current drug plan's formulary? Listen as I cover the cost and deductible changes in 2018.
July 7, 2017
Fallon Health Plans, out of Worcester, MA was issued a Civil Money Penalty by CMS on June 29, 2017, for failing to comply with Medicare regulations. Fallon's Medicare members were being "inappropriately" denied and/or delayed access to Part D prescription drugs and Part C medical services. Find out how much Fallon was "smacked" by CMS and what to do if you are a current Fallon Medicare Plan member.
June 19, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! I'm so happy to be here and tell you the latest, regarding Cigna-HealthSpring (Cigna) Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans (MAPD) and Prescription Drug Plans (PDP). In January of 2016, CMS suspended Cigna from enrolling NEW Medicare Beneficiaries into their Medicare Advantage and stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans. The following States were affected by the suspension: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennesse. ON June 16, 2017, CMS released the suspension of marketing and enrollment sanctions on Cigna.....with a big BUT. On March 17, 2017, CMS received an attestation from Cigna, stating Cigna had corrected all  the violations that were listed in the CMS sanction notice. Quoted from the letter CMS sent to Cigna interim CEO & COO Mr. Shawn Moore - "CMS required Cigna to hire an independent auditor to conduct a validation audit provide CMS with the results of the audit. CMS used the information in the audit report to determine whether Cigna corrected the deficiencies that formed the basis for the sanction." Based on the results of the audit report, CMS determined that......"Cigna's deficiencies have been sufficiently corrected." Therefore, effective June 16, 2017, CMS is lifting the intermediate sanctions for Cigna's contracts and Cigna will return to normal marketing and enrollment status." Further down in the CMS document, on page 2, paragraph 1, line 3, it states...."In addition, during the independent validation audit, several findings were indentified, none of which prevent CMS from releasing Cigna from sanctions, but some of which merit additional monitoring and reporting. .......For up to one year, CMS will also conduct targeted monitoring in certain areas to ensure that Cigna continues to improve its operations.  What does that mean if you are currently a Medicare beneficiary on a Cigna-HealthSpring MAPD or PDP Plan? First of all, you are completely covered. Your benefits are intact and current. What you need to do now is become more "diligent" in reviewing your "explanation of benefits" (EOB) statement. Your EOB statement will contain information regarding prescription drugs, medical visits, diagnostics etc.  You should be ensuring the prescriptions listed on your EOB are the ones you received and that each doctor, diagnostic tests & procedures, hospitalizations etc. were actually done! Mistakes happen more than you know. Human errors and computer errors happen frequently. When you look at your EOB Statement every month you help eliminate these errors.  It is soooo important to review your EOB statement each month. If you find an error on your EOB statement, you have several options to rectify it. #1. Call Cigna Customer Support (800-668-3813)        Explain to customer support the "discrepency" you          found on your EOB statement. That may easily              correct the issue you found.  #2. Call your Medicare Consultant, Medicare                  Advisor or Agent.        Your Medicare Agent, who "sold" you this             policy, should be available to assist you with questions  or issues with your Cigna plan. #3. Contact Senior Medicare Patrol        Go to the Senior Medicare Patrol website to look up resources in your area.         Senior Medicare Patrol #4.  Contact your State Dept. of Aging          Every State has a Department of Aging or Department of Elder Affairs, which will assist you with many types of issues.          The "Healthy Aging" website has a list of each State's contact information for their Department of Aging or Elder Affairs.            Here's the link:           Healthy Aging List of State Agencies #5.   Contact Medicare          As a last resort, call Medicare directly. Government "downsizing" has caused delays in telephone correspondence, but it is still a reliable source.          Expect to be on hold from ten minutes to an hour, depending on the day and season.   Expect to see Cigna hit the airwaves and your mailboxes with advertisements regarding their Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans. If you are not sure if you should remain on a Cigna Medicare Advantage Plan for 2018 and you have no one to speak to for assistance, call me! I am available for consulting and I do so on an hourly basis. I charge $150.00 an hour and I assure you, I am very honest in my time. If you have an interest in contacting me for consulting, send me an email to: Support@TheMedicareNation.com You can also visit my website for more information. www.CallSamm.com   I thank each of you for listening to Medicare Nation and I look forward to hearing from you with any questions you have regarding Medicare.   Until next time, have a happy, peaceful and prosperous week! Diane              
April 28, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! Learn More About Medicare Here I receive many questions from clients and listeners about Medicare.  A question that is quite common is: "What vaccinations are covered under Medicare?" That's what this week's episode is all about.... vaccinations! There are currently three vaccinations that are covered under preventative and screening services under Medicare: 1. Flu Shot 2. Hepatitis Shot 3. Pneumococcal Vaccine   Flu Shot If you are enrolled in Medicare Part B, you can receive a Flu Shot from your doctor or other qualified health provider, who accepts Medicare assignment for administering the flu shot.  The cost for the Flu Shot under this scenario is $0 out-of-pocket for you. If your doctor or other healthcare provider does not accept Medicare assignment, your out-of-pocket cost be up to 100% of the cost of the Flu shot. Ensure your doctor or healthcare physician is contracted with Medicare before receiving treatment. For more information on the Flu, I'm sending you to this website: www.Flu.gov   Hepatitis B The Hepatitis B shot is available to individuals who are enrolled in Medicare Part B, have a doctor or other qualified health provider, who accepts Medicare assignment and you are at a "Medium" or "High" Risk to contract Hepatitis B. What indicates a Medium or High Risk? Well....there are many answers, but if you have certain diseases like hemophilia, ESRD (End Stage Renal Failure), Diabetes or other conditions that lower your resistance to infection are some good examples. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility for the Hepatitis B shot, ask your doctor. Since the Hepatitis B shot is covered under the Preventative and Screening Services of Medicare, there is $0 out-of-pocket cost to you. To learn more about Hepatitis B, I'm giving you the link to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn More About Hepatitis B   Pneumococcal Shot You are entitled to a Pneumococcal Shot if your doctor believes you need one, he or she is a qualified health provider, who accepts Medicare assignment and you are enrolled in Medicare Part B. There is also a second, different Pneumococcal shot that is administered one year after the first shot is given. Medicare Part B will cover this additional shot if your doctor says you need the two shots. You should always discuss your options and your concerns with your primary doctor. Here is the link to the CDC website on additional information about pneumococcal vaccinations: Learn More About Pneumococcal Vaccinations   Additional Vaccinations and Shots Available Other commercially administered vaccinations are available under Medicare Part "D" Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis (Whooping Cough) are examples of Part D coverage. A "Booster" shot, given to adults, adolescents and children is available as Tdap. Depending on what type of Prescription Drug Plan you are on, will depend on your out-of-pocket cost. You should contact your Medicare Insurance Carrier customer service department to request such information.   Shingles The Shingles Vaccine (Herpes Zoster) is also available under Part "D" of Medicare. The Shingles Vaccine out-of-pocket costs will vary by plan. You must contact your Medicare Plan Carrier's customer service department to determine your out-of-pocket cost for the Shingles Vaccine.  If you are not enrolled in Medicare Part D, you may have to pay up to 100% of the cost for the Shingles Vaccine. Here is the link to the CDC website for information on Shingles. Learn More about Shingles I also did an ENTIRE EPISODE ON SHINGLES! Go to Apple Podcasts and search in the Medicare Nation "Feed" directory. You'll see the episode is number 46, and was published on June 17, 2016. Listen to that episode! It is EXTREMELY educational. As the Medicare season has slowed down, I will be taking a break from the weekly publishing for the next few months. I'll post a new episode about every 3-4 weeks until September, when I'll pick right up and publish weekly shows again. Thank you soooo much for being a loyal Medicare Nation listener!  If you are enjoying Medicare Nation, give us a 5 Star Review on Apple Podcasts! The more people we can reach, the more people will learn more about Medicare. It' as simple as that! Thank you for listening to Medicare Nation! I'm so happy you are here! Share Medicare Nation with your family and friends, so they can learn more about Medicare and their benefits. Have a peaceful and prosperous week! Diane      
April 7, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! Over 17.5 Million of you are on a Medicare Advantage plan. And many of you have been, or know of a situation where your doctor has left the “network” and you are told by your Medicare Advantage Plan Carrier that you must find a new doctor. You tell your Medicare Advantage Plan carrier that you would like to change plans to keep your doctor, and they will tell you something that goes like this….”I’m sorry, you are unable to change plans mid-year. You will have to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period occurs to change plans, unless you have a special election. So….you’ll need to change doctors at this time.” Sound familiar? Well…..on today’s show, I’m going to discuss a “special election (SEP),” called – “Significant Network Change,” that many, many Insurance Agents don’t even know about. Revisions were made to the Medicare Managed Care Manual, which went into effect on April 22, 2016. The Significant Network Change Special Election Period, as written in the Medicare Managed Care Manual is listed as: “Pursuant to 42 CFR § 422.62(b)(4), enrollees who meet the exceptional conditions of being substantially affected by a significant no-cause provider network termination may be afforded a special election period (SEP). If CMS determines that an MAO’s network change is significant with substantial enrollee impact, then a “significant network change SEP” may be warranted. CMS will use a variety of criteria for making this determination, such as: (1) the number of enrollees affected; (2) the size of the service area affected; (3) the timing of the termination; (4) whether adequate and timely notice is provided to enrollees, (5) and any other information that may be relevant to the particular circumstance(s). The Medicare Advantage Organization will be required to notify eligible enrollees of the significant network change SEP if the SEP is granted by CMS. SEPs will not be granted when MAOs make changes to their network that are effective on January 1 of the following contract year, as long as affected enrollees are notified of the changes prior to the AEP.   According to the rules, if a Medicare Insurance Carrier makes a  “significant change” to one of their Medicare Advantage plan’s networks, that plan’s beneficiaries could possibly be granted a Special Election Period. This provider network change SEP allows beneficiaries “three months” to switch to traditional Medicare, with or without a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan, or switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, with or without Part D coverage. Whether or not beneficiaries qualify for this SEP is entirely up to CMS. CMS states in the Medicare Managed Care Manual that they may grant a provider network change SEP to beneficiaries based on some of the following factors: The amount of beneficiaries affected Whether or not beneficiaries received adequate and timely advance notice of the provider terminations The size of the plan’s service area The time of the year that the plan made changes to its provider network So…..if you have lost your primary care doctor, due to a non-cause termination in your Medicare Advantage Network, and it has caused you a “significant change” to your healthcare due to your doctor’s termination from the network, call Medicare and fight for this SEP! If Medicare denies your request for a SEP and you honestly feel you qualify under one or more of the criteria stated……. Call me and hire me to contact Medicare on your behalf! I have listed other Special Enrollment instances when you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage Plan outside of the Annual Enrollment Period. For a complete list, go to www.Medicare.gov   TRADITIONAL MEDICARE SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD Here’s quick guide to when you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage Plan: You can make your initial selection of a Medicare Advantage Plan when you enroll in Medicare at age 65. During the Annual Enrollment Period which is between October 15th through Dec 7th every year. You can dis-enroll from a Medicare Advantage Plan between January 1- Feb 14th, but you would have to go back on to Original Medicare because you cannot switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan at this time. You may have a “Special Election” that qualifies you to change your plan.   The Special Election Period that qualifies you to change your Medicare Advantage Plan, is what we want to focus on today.  There are certain circumstances which allow you to qualify for this option. If You Move If you move and your new residence is not in your plan service area. You would need to notify Medicare as soon as possible, because you have the rest of the current month you are moving and the following 2 full months as the Special Election Period. If you move to a new address and your plan is still in your service area, but by moving you now have new options available to you that you didn’t previously have, then you would have a Special Election Period to change to one of the new option plans. Snowbirds that live in 2 locations, have to determine which of those residences is your primary residence. Where you vote and where you pay taxes are going to determine which is your primary residence. If you move out of the country for a period of time and now you are coming back to live in the US,  that will trigger a Special Election Period. If you are moving into a long term care facility or a Skilled Nursing Facility with round the clock skilled nursing care, you would have a Special Election Period when you move into the facility, while you are residing in the facility and when you move out of the facility.  Losing Coverage: If you leave your Employer's Insurance Plan, or union through retirement, turning 65, etc. If you had an involuntary loss of drug coverage that was as good or better than Medicare drug coverage(credible coverage), that triggers a SEP. Or if you have had drug coverage through a Medicare Cost Plan and you leave the Cost Plan. If you leave a PACE (Program All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) Program. If you had Medicaid and lost eligibility because of income requirements.   When there are plan changes with Medicare Contracts: If your Medicare Advantage Plan was sanctioned by CMS, then you would be able to contact Medicare directly to request a Special Election Period  to choose another Medicare Advantage Plan. If Medicare terminated a contract with your Medicare Advantage Plan, that will trigger a Special Election Period and CMS will notify you.   Special Circumstances You qualify as a Medicare & Medicaid recipient, you may change Medicare Advantage Plans as often as you'd like! If you qualify for LIS (Limited Income Sources) you may get extra help with prescription drug coverage and a Special Election Period to enroll in a different Medicare Advantage Plan. During your Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare, you may have enrolled in a Medigap plan, and decided to change to a Medicare Advantage Plan during your first enrollment year. If you decide you want to change back to a Medicare Supplement Plan during your first year of coverage, you qualify. SNP Plan - for chronic conditions (Diabetes, Heart Disease, COP) - may change your current Medicare Advantage Plan to enroll in a SNP plan, or you may no longer qualify for a SNP, so you can choose another Medicare Advantage Plan. f an error was made by a federal employee when you signed up for Medicare, and you can prove it, you may be granted an SEP. If you have a Medicare Supplement - a Medigap plan, you can change plans whenever you want because there is no SEP for Medicare Supplement Plans. Precautions: If you have a chronic illness, cancer, cardiovascular disease or other medical conditions, a Medicare Supplement (MediGap) plan does not have to enroll you after your first year of enrollment. You need to be careful and make sure you are going to be able to get coverage when you change plans. The Medicare Supplement carrier may not take you due to pre-existing conditions and once you drop your Medicare Advantage Plan, you may be "locked out" and not able to re-enroll until the next open enrollment period..Medicare Supplement Carriers can discriminate due to pre-existing conditions! The price of Medicare Supplement plans do change as you age, and where you live. Keep that in mind.   Need more information on "Special Enrollment Periods?" See the entire list at www.Medicare.gov    Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
March 17, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! March is colon cancer awareness month! Medicare offers different types of "preventative" tests and exams, which aid in diagnosing illnesses and diseases, such as colon cancer. Always speak with your primary care physician or specialist doctor, to discuss your medical history, family history regarding illness and diseases, as well as any signs & symptoms you may have. This will assist your physician in determining which type of "preventative" test or exam, is best for you. A special "Thank You," goes out to Phillip, from Kenosha, Wisconsin, who asks the question: "I don't like going through a colonoscopy. Are other options available and how often do I need one?" Let's look at Medicare's official website, to find out more about "preventative" Colo rectal cancer screenings. www.medicare.gov   How often is it covered? Medicare Part B covers several types of colo rectal cancer screening tests to help find precancerous growths or find cancer early, when treatment is most effective. One or more of these tests may be covered:   Screening barium enema:When this test is used instead of a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, Medicare covers it once every 48 months if you're 50 or over and once every 24 months if you're at high risk for colorectal cancer. Screening colonoscopy: Medicare covers this test once every 24 months if you're at high risk for colorectal cancer. If you aren't at high risk for colorectal cancer, Medicare covers this test once every 120 months (ten years), or… 48 months after a previous flexible sigmoidoscopy. Screening fecal occult blood test: Medicare covers this lab test once every 12 months if you're 50 or older. Multi-target stool DNA test: Medicare covers this at-home test once every 3 years for people who meet allof these conditions:   The Medicare Beneficiary is between 50–85. show no signs or symptoms of colorectal disease including, but not limited to, lower gastrointestinal pain, blood in stool, positive guaiac fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test. They’re at average risk for developing colorectal cancer, meaning: They have no personal history of adenomatous polyps, colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. They have no family history of colorectal cancers or adenomatous polyps, familial adenomatous polyposis, or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. Screening flexible sigmoidoscopy: Medicare covers this test once every 48 months for most people 50 or older. If you aren't at high risk, Medicare covers this test 120 months (ten years) after a previous screening colonoscopy.   Who's eligible? All people age 50 or older with Part B are covered. People of any age are eligible for a colonoscopy.   Your costs in Original Medicare For barium enemas, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor's services. In a hospital outpatient setting, you also pay a co-payment or co-insurance You pay nothing for a multi-target stool DNA test. You pay nothing for the screening colonoscopy or screening flexible sigmoidoscopy, if your doctor accepts assignment (contracted with Medicare or is an out-of-network physician who accepts assignment). If a screening colonoscopy or screening flexible sigmoidoscopy results in the biopsy or removal of a lesion or growth during the same visit, the procedure is considered diagnostic and you may have to pay co-insurance and/or a co-payment, but the Part B deductible doesn't apply. You pay nothing for the screening fecal occult blood test. This screening test is covered if you get a referral from your doctor, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist.    Early detection of cancer is critical to successful treatment and may prove to be life-saving! Get your preventative colorectal screening done as soon as your physician recommends it!   Thank you for listening to Medicare Nation! If you are part of my “Sandwich Generation,” Share this show with your parents and/or grandparents. They have many questions about Medicare and this show will answer them! Buy them a “Smart Phone,” and introduce them to Medicare Nation! If you are a Baby Boomer, share Medicare Nation with other “Baby Boomers.” I want to educate as many of you as I can about Medicare! I certainly can use  your help in putting the word out! If you have any questions, send them to Support@TheMedicareNation.com If I can answer it in one email - I will personally answer you! If your question requires research or additional contact with you, I do offer consulting if you would like me to assist you in that manner. Want to hear a topic on Medicare Nation? A special guest? Let me know and I'll do my best to get them on the show! Thanks again for listening!  
March 10, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! I receive many phone calls from clients, who say they were unable to schedule an appointment with a new doctor; even though they are on a Medicare Supplement Plan.  I made many phone calls, with my clients to physician offices, in order to fix these issues. What I found out didn't surprise me. Many of the staff at physician office's across the country are inadequately trained in the different types of Medicare Plans. I decided to educate you on how to make an appointment with a physician, lab, hospital, SNF or radiology center, if you have a Medicare Supplement Plan. Having a Medicare Supplement Plan allows you the freedom to see any physician or provider you want.....,as long as the provider "accepts assignment" with Medicare. Let's take an example. If you wanted to make an appointment with a new Cardiologist, 1. call the office you want to be seen in. 2. Tell the person, who is scheduling your appointment, that          Medicare is your Primary Insurance. 3. You may be asked if you have a "secondary insurance." If you are enrolled in a Medicare Supplement Plan, the answer is .... "Yes, I have a Medicare Supplement Plan." If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, the Medicare Advantage Plan is your "Primary Insurance." Most likely, you don't have another plan. When you visit the physician's office for the first time, show the receptionist your Medicare Supplement ID Card. You may be asked if you have your Medicare ID Card. Hopefully, you've made a copy of your Medicare ID Card and have left your original Medicare ID Card at home in a safe place. You shouldn't be carrying your Original Medicare ID Card! The staff will bill Medicare and the Medicare Supplement Plan for the amount you would have owed, if on Original Medicare. You should not receive any paperwork to submit to Medicare or a Medicare Insurance Carrier.  Prior to any physician visits or procedures, call and ask if you have any co-pay, co-insurance or deductible if you are enrolled in a Medicare Supplement Plan that is not designated by the letter "F." Medicare Supplement Plans are designated by Letters of the Alphabet and those "letter" plans can be offered by many different Insurance Companies.  Each "lettered" plan pays co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles, on your behalf, based on the plan you select.  After the physician's staff has your Medicare Supplement Plan info on file, they shouldn't require you to show them your card the next time you come in for an appointment. Hopefully, this has helped you understand what is going on in the real world, and it will make it a less frustrating place for you! Thank you for listening to Medicare Nation! If you are part of my “Sandwich Generation,” Share this show with your parents and/or grandparents. They have many questions about Medicare and this show will answer them! Buy them a “Smart Phone,” and introduce them to Medicare Nation! If you are a Baby Boomer, share Medicare Nation with other “Baby Boomers.” I want to educate as many of you as I can about Medicare! I certainly can use  your help in putting the word out! If you have any questions, send them to Support@TheMedicareNation.com If I can answer it in one email - I will personally answer you! If your question requires research or additional contact with you, I do offer consulting if you would like me to assist you in that manner. Want to hear a topic on Medicare Nation? A special guest? Let me know and I'll do my best to get them on the show! Thanks again for listening!
March 3, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! Many of you carry your Medicare ID card in your wallet or purse. If you are a Medicare Advantage beneficiary, you have a “separate” medical ID card from the insurance carrier. It is not necessary to carry your Medicare ID card, If you have a Medicare Advantage ID card. Who should carry their Medicare ID Card? If the official Medicare program is your “primary” insurance, you should be carrying your Medicare ID card. Now….. let me discuss with you how you can carry your Medicare ID card in a safer way. Currently, your Medicare ID Card has your Social Security number on it, with a letter at the end of your Social Security number.  If you have your social security number memorized, take these steps to help prevent “identity theft.” Make a copy of your Medicare ID Card Place your original Medicare ID Card in a safe place. Take a Black Permanent Marker and “black out” all of the numbers of your social security number( except the last four numbers and the letter), on the copy. Laminate the copy Put this copy of your Medicare ID card in your wallet or purse.   If you are on a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Supplement to Medicare Plan, you should be carrying the Medical ID card the insurance carrier provided you. If you have a stand-alone prescription drug plan, you will also have a separate card for your prescriptions. You will need to carry this card in your wallet or purse also.   How Do I Replace My Medicare ID Card if I Lost it or it Was Stolen? If you made a copy of your Medicare ID Card like I described above, you won’t have a problem. You can retrieve your Medicare ID Card from it’s safe place and make a new copy of the card. If you didn’t make a copy of your Medicare ID Card, you will need to ask the Social Security Administration for a replacement card. Follow these steps: You can ask for a Medicare Replacement Card : Online By phone At a local Social Security office location                                                            A.Online Go to ssa.gov You’ll see pretty pictures on the home page. On the left side is a picture, with the caption… “Learn What You Can Do Online.” “Click” on the that photo. When the next page opens, look down to about the 7th It will read….”If you get Social Security benefits or have Medicare you can….” “Click” on that line. Sign in or Register for a “My Social Security Account.” 5th line down should read….. “Get a Replacement Medicare Card” Select – “Replacement Documents” tab. Fill out the required information. If the site “accepts” your information, you are all set! You should receive your replacement Medicare Card in 30 – 60 days. If the site shows any kind of “error” or “red flags,” you will need to physically go down to a local Social Security location.             B. By Phone                      1. Call 800 - 633 - 4227                     C. Social Security Office                       1. Click on the "Social Security Location" tab and put in your                          zip code to find the nearest location to you.   Thanks so much for listening to Medicare Nation! I appreciate the time you took to listen. If you have a parent or grandparent, who is approaching Medicare age (65) or is already receiving Medicare benefits, help them “Subscribe” to Medicare Nation. Buy them a Smartphone! If you buy them an Apple phone…show them the “purple” podcast icon on the phone and how they access Medicare Nation. Once the Medicare Nation page loads….. click on “subscribe.” All current shows will load automatically once a week for them! If you buy them an Android phone, just go to Google Play and “Search” for the app – “Stitcher.” Download the Stitcher App. When you open Stitcher, they will need to sign up with an email address and password. Once the home page opens, show them how to “swipe” to the left, until they reach the “last page.” This is the “Search” page. In the “search” bar…. Type in “Medicare Nation.” Medicare Nation comes right up! “Click” on the Subscribe button…… they are set! Help your parents “search” for other types of podcasts they would have an interest in. You will be opening up a brand new world for them and they WILL thank you for it!
February 24, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! I hope everyone is having an awesome week! Say goodbye to February! I know all of you Northerners are thrilled to see it go! Bring it on March! You know, I see many, many clients and one of the top questions I am asked is, "What does the letter on my Medicare ID card mean?" It happens so often, I figured I better dedicate an episode to just that! The Social Security Administration (SSA) assigns a letter and a number, (if you fit into a sub-group) when you apply for Social Security Benefits and/or Medicare. The letter (and number if it applies) is found on your Medicare ID Card, right after your social security number. As an example, if you have worked and contributed to FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act), and started receiving your Social Security benefits at age 64, and you enrolled in Medicare at age 65, the letter "A" will be designated to you. The "claim" number would look like this on your Medicare ID Card: 123-45-6789A Just as "Different Strokes for different Folks," the Social Security Administration assigns "claim" numbers for different situations. "Where Do I find the full list of Social Security claim letters?" You can go to the following locations to see a full list of claim letters: 1. www.ssa.gov 2. Title XVIII of the Social Security Act 3. For a Free List of the Codes Listed by the Social Security Administration on their website, go to my website - www.callsamm.com   Thanks for listening to Medicare Nation! Please SHOW someone how to "subscribe" to Medicare Nation, so they can learn about their Medicare benefits and what type of Medicare Plan they should be on!  
February 17, 2017
What is the Difference Between a Welcome to Medicare Visit  vs. an Annual Wellness Visit?  A "Welcome to Medicare" preventive visit: Is an introductory visit only within the first 12 months you have Medicare Part B. This visit includes a review of your medical and social history with your Primary Physician, as well as possibly including preventive services, including: Certain screenings, shots, and referrals for other care, if needed Height, weight, and blood pressure measurements A calculation of your body mass index A simple vision test A review of your potential risk for depression and your level of safety An offer to talk with you about creating "Advanced Directives" A written plan letting you know which screenings, shots, and other preventive services you need.  This visit is covered one time. You don’t need to have this visit as a "prerequisite," to be covered for yearly "Wellness" visits. Annual "Wellness" visits: If you've had Part B for longer than 12 months, you can get this visit to develop or update a personalized prevention help plan. This plan is designed to help prevent disease and disability based on your current health and risk factors. Your provider will ask you to fill out a questionnaire, called a “Health Risk Assessment,” as part of this visit. Answering these questions can help you and your provider develop a personalized prevention plan to help you stay healthy and get the most out of your visit. It can also include: A review of your medical and family history Developing or updating a list of current providers and prescriptions Height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine measurements Detection of any cognitive impairment Personalized health advice A list of risk factors and treatment options for you A screening schedule (like a checklist) for appropriate preventive services.  This visit is covered once every 12 months (11 full months must have passed since the last visit). Who's eligible? All people with Part B are covered. Your costs in Original Medicare You pay nothing for the “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit or the yearly “Wellness” visit if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts assignment with Medicare  The Part B deductible doesn’t apply for annual wellness visits. However, you may have to pay coinsurance, and the Part B deductible may apply if: Your doctor or other health care provider performs additional tests or services during the same visit (ex: an EKG or draws blood). The additional tests or services aren't covered under the preventive benefits. An "Annual Exam" is where your Primary Care Physician will provide a "hands on" examination of you and you may have tests like an EKG or have blood drawn. Co-pays, coinsurance and deductibles will apply for Annual Exams.   Share Medicare Nation with someone! Teach your parents, your grandparents how to access this podcast! Buy them a smartphone. Show them how to access iTunes & Stitcher. The more they know, the less they will ask you for help. It's not easy being the "Sandwich Generation." So...... do yourself and your parents a favor and help them listen to Medicare Nation!   
February 10, 2017
Hey There Medicare Nation! Today, I'm speaking with a special guest. I'm speaking with my good friend James Van Prooyen. James recently retired from the military, where he spent twenty years in the Air Force. James didn't always want to serve in the Military. At first, James wanted to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and become an electrician. While James was a senior in High School, in Northern Michigan, he was introduced to a recruiting officer. James learned a great deal about being in the Military, and James wanted to serve - for four years!  Shortly approaching his fourth year in the Air Force, James thought about his future. He had a wonderful wife and a new baby. James loved working with his Air Force family, and he decided to enlist again for four more years. Those four years soon turned into twenty, and James found himself retiring and not knowing what to do next.  James kept very busy after retiring from the Air Force by helping his wife with her nutritional business and helping to take care of his daughter. James soon began networking and found himself part of the Tampa Bay Business Owners Association, and he soon learned he wanted to be an entrepreneur. James learned about Podcasting and new he wanted to have a Military Show. The Veteran's in Business Show was born! James wants the Veteran's in Business Show to be a conduit for veterans who already own a business, to guide and teach veterans who will be leaving the military in the coming year. Veteran's who want to start their own business, will learn from other veterans, who have done it before them. Resources for veteran's. James wants to make the transition easier for his brother and sister veterans. If you are a veteran business owner and would like to be interviewed on Jame's podcast..... send him an email to  TheMilitaryPodcastNetwork@gmail.com If you know of a veteran who would love to learn how to start their own business, tell them to listen to the Veteran's in Business Show with James Van Prooyen. Find the podcast here: veterans-in-business-show Contact James Van Prooyen: @JamesVanProoyen on Snap Chat - JamesVanProoyen LinkedIn - James Van Prooyen James - Thank You for your Service!   Tell a family or friend about Medicare Nation!  Help someone get on Medicare Nation with a Smart Phone!  The resources for people 64 and older is so valuable! I'm counting on my "Sandwich Generation" to help out and get their parents on the show! Help me to help you! Thanks for listenening!      
February 3, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! This week I’m discussing Medical Marijuana! 2017 has issued in with additional States Legalizing Marijuana for Medicinal purposes. I am speaking with Dr. Rachna Patel, The Medical Marijuana Expert this week on Medicare Nation. Dr. Rachna Patel completed her undergraduate studies at Northwestern University in Illinois and her Medical studies at Touro University in Vallejo, CA. Dr. Patel is a licensed practitioner in the State of California and is in impeccable standing with the State of California Medical Board. She has been practicing in the area of Medical Marijuana (cannabis) since 2012, and she has treated countless patients! Dr. Patel is known for her “bedside manner” with her patients and does things differently than other Medical Marijuana doctors. Dr. Patel sees her patients “in person” and not by phone or virtually. Dr. Patel spends a thorough amount of time with patients to ensure she is guiding them step-by-step through the Medical Marijuana process. Dr. Patel may “recommend” medical marijuana for conditions and diagnoses such as, but not limited to: Chronic Pain (nerve, muscular) Auto-Immune Conditions Anxiety Insomnia Cancer Dr. Patel may “not” recommend medical marijuana for conditions and diagnoses such as, but not limited to: Spinal Stenosis Severe “Shingles” Case Bi-Polar Disorder History of Heart Attack/Stroke   Medical Marijuana is “Googled” daily by tens-of-thousands of people. According to ProCon.org , Colorado residents show the most interest in “searching” information on Medical Marijuana.  This may be due to the fact that Colorado was the first State to legalize “recreational use” of marijuana, and has set a "standard" for other States to follow. According to the website ProCon.org, as of March of 2016, there are over 1,250,000.00 people using marijuana medicinally. As more States legalize the use of Medical Marijuana, those numbers will steadily rise. The following 21 States have passed legislation for the use of Medicinal Marijuana: Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Hawaii. The following Nine States have passed legislation for the recreational use of marijuana: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, D.C.  That’s 30 States Total that have legalized Medicinal Marijuana. Here are a few links to learn more about Medical Marijuana: www.weedmaps.com http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/ Would you like to contact Dr. Rachna Patel to learn more about Medical Marijuana and/or her practice? Here are links for Dr. Patel. Website – www.Dr.RachnaPatel.com Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DoctorRachnaPatel YouTube                                                                                                       https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNtN7JXpNKHAYA7ZdWzpi1A     How to Choose a Medical Marijuana Doctor that You Can Trust 28 Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC: Laws, Fees, and Possession Limits   Thank you for listening to Medicare Nation! If you are part of my “Sandwich Generation,” Share this show with your parents and/or grandparents. They have many questions about Medicare and this show will answer them! Buy them a “Smart Phone,” and introduce them to Medicare Nation! If you are a Baby Boomer, share Medicare Nation with other “Baby Boomers.” I want to educate as many of you as I can about Medicare! I certainly can use  your help in putting the word out! If you have any questions, send them to Support@TheMedicareNation.com If I can answer it in one email - I will personally answer you! If your question requires research or additional contact with you, I do offer consulting if you would like me to assist you in that manner. Want to hear a topic on Medicare Nation? A special guest? Let me know and I'll do my best to get them on the show! Thanks again for listening!    
January 20, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! How many of you have just found out your Doctor is leaving the Medicare Advantage Network you're in? I'm certain there are "Thousands of you." That is the #1 complaint I receive from clients, is that their "Doctor" is leaving or has left their Medicare Advantage Plan (MAPD) Network. Medicare has regulations about how a Medicare Advantage Organization (MAO) can "terminate" a Doctor contracted in their network and in reverse, there are regulations on how a Doctor can leave a MAO. There are also regulations on how a MAO publishes it's "Provider Directory" for their network. Chapter 4, Section 110.1.1 of the Medicare Managed Care Manual, titled, Provider Network Standards, lists in part....  "MAO's are required to establish and maintain provider networks that: ...... Are accurately reflected in up-to-date directories. Plans are responsible for verifying and regularly updating their network directories to ensure that providers included in the directories are available to their enrollees (ie, listed providers accept new patients who are enrolled in the plan).   In section 110.2.2 labeled Provider Directory Updates, it states in part: ....MAO's must include information regarding all contracted network providers in directories at the time of enrollment. Directories must include information about the number, mix, and distribution of all network providers. MAO's may have separate directories for each geographic area they serve (e.g. metropolitan areas, surrounding county areas), provided that all directories together cover the entire service area. Provider Directories must be updated anytime the MAO becomes aware of changes. They have 30 days to update the changes or be non-compliant. When there is a change to the provider network (a provider is terminated or the provider is leaving the network), The MAO "must make a good faith effort to provide a written notice of a termination of a contracted provider at least 30 calendar days before the termination effective date to all enrollees who are patients seen on a regular basis by the provider whose contract is terminating." In regards to termination of "Primary Care Physicians," all enrollees who are patients of that primary care professional must be notified."   So.....what's being done about all the inaccuracies to provider directories?   CMS conducted it's first review of 54 Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAO's) online provider directories, between February and August of 2016. The finding......45% of provider directory locations listed in these online directories were inaccurate! About one-third of all MAO's with 5,832 providers were reviewed in total. Twenty-One MAO's received warning letters from CMS around January 6th, and they have 30 days to fix the errors or face possible fines or sanctions, which could include suspending marketing and enrollment of medicare beneficiaries. Here are the Medicare Advantage Plans that received warning letters from CMS to immediately fix the errors in their provider directories. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island - RI Rhode IslandBlue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan - FL MI, MO WI Catholic Health Partners - IA,KY, MI, OH CIGNA  - IL, IA Community Health Plan of Washington - WA Emblem Health Inc. - CT, NY, RI Fallon Community Health - MA Gateway Health Plan, LP - OH, PA, WV Health Partners Plans, Inc. - PA Highmark Health - PA Humana Inc. - WI Indiana University Health - IA Magellan Health Inc. - NY Moda, Inc. AK, ID, MT, NM, OR, WA Molina Healthcare, Inc. - UT Piedmont Community Health Plan - VA Premera - WA Samaritan Health Services - OR SCAN Health Plan - CA UnitedHealth Group, Inc. - CO Wellcare Health Plans - IL   Now.... if you are a member of one of these MAO plans that received a "warning letter," you may qualify for a "Special Enrollment Period," from Medicare. What should you do?........ 1. Call Medicare - 800-633-4227 2. Tell the Medicare employee that you are a member of the ________ Medicare Advantage Plan, that received a "Warning Letter" from CMS for non-compliance of their provider directory. 3. State (if it's true!) that you were not notified by your physician or the MAO of the termination of your doctor, and your directory wasn't updated. 4. VERY IMPORTANT  TO STATE.....     Tell the Medicare employee you RELY on the directory to locate an in-network provider, and by the Medicare Advantage Plan & the Doctor NOT informing you that he/she was LEAVING the network, it caused a SIGNIFICANT access to care barrier for you!  Because now...... You can't see your doctor who has taken such good care of you..... due to the error. 5. Ask for a Special Election Period, so that you can choose a Medicare Advantage Plan where your Doctor is in-network. 6. If they grant you the Special Election Period, tell the Medicare employee which Medicare Advantage Plan you want to be on. 7. If they say "NO,"  Thank the Medicare Representative for their help and say goodbye.   What do you do now???? See if you qualify for a different Special Election Period. Listen to my earlier episode on SEP's. Listen to Last Friday's episode on 5 STAR Plans. Listen to the episode on the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. It also includes information on Special Need Plans. If NONE of these ideas offer you the opportunity to change your Medicare Advantage Plan to a better option, than you will have to remain on the Medicare Advantage Plan you are on until the Annual Enrollment Period to change plans. Do your Due Dilligence Nation! Don't enroll in another Medicare Advantage Plan.... just because the doctor who is leaving the network is on that one! Make sure the plan will fit your Medical, financial and prescription needs for 2017! Share Medicare Nation with someone! Teach your parents, your grandparents how to access this podcast! Buy them a smartphone. The more they know, the less they will ask you for help. It's not easy being the "Sandwich Generation." So...... do yourself and your parents a favor and help them listen to Medicare Nation!   
January 13, 2017
Hey Medicare Nation! Medicare has announced the 2017 "5 Star Plans." What are 5 Star Plans? Medicare rates all health and prescription drug plans each year, based on a plan's quality and performance. Medicare Star ratings will help you understand the job a plan is doing. There are 2 main types of Star Ratings: 1. Overall Star Rating that combines all of the plan's scores. 2. A Summary Star Rating that focuses on a plan's medical or prescription drug services. A few areas Medicare reviews for these Star Ratings include: 1. How plan members rate their plan's services and care. 2. How well a plan's network of doctors detect illnesses and keep members healthy. 3. How well a plan helps it's members use recommended and safe prescription medications. A plan can receive a 1 to 5 Star Rating. 5 Stars is Excellent 4 Stars is above average 3 Stars is average 2. Stars is below average and 1 Star is poor. You can only switch to a 5 Star Rating Medicare Advantage Plan or a 5 Star Stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan, that is available in your area. You can only switch to a 5 Star Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare Cost Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan once from December 8th to November 30th of the next year. Once you use your election to enroll in a 5 Star Plan, you cannot use it again. If a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Stand-Alone Prescription Drug Plan has received a 5 Star Rating from Medicare, it doesnot mean you automatically go out and enroll in the 5 Star Plan. That 5 Star Plan may not fit your unique needs! The option is available..... if you need it! Some people enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan during the Annual Enrollment Period, and only switched plans because they received an incentive from the new plan. Ex: Your neighbor "Phil" tells you he is on the greatest Medicare Advantage Plan. He receives $30 in "Bandaids" from his plan every month. He tells you to "switch" plans so you can get $30 worth of over-the-counter supplies every month. Phil hands you his "Agent's" card. You call Phil's "Agent," who gladly comes out and enrolls you into the same exact plan that Phil has. The plan goes into effect January 1st. You call your Primary Doctor on February 6th for an appointment because you think you have the flu.  The secretary advises you that Dr. Jones does not accept the new plan your on. What? You didn't check to see if your Primary Doctor accepts the new plan? Phil's "Agent" didn't check to see if your Primary Doctor was in the new plan's network? Sorry......you should have done your due diligence. Now you will have to "remain" on this plan until the next Annual Enrollment Period. You are "locked-in," until October 15th.  Maybe you were better off on the plan you originally were on. In this example, you may have another option! You find out in January, that XYZ Medicare Advantage Plan has a 5 Star Rating in your area. You can look up the XYZ Plans and determine if one of their plans accepts your Primary Doctor in their network. Check the co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles on the new plan. Check that all your prescription drugs are in the new 5 Star Plan's formulary. If you like what you found out about the 5 Star Rating Plan that is available in your area, you are allowed to "switch" one time from the Medicare Advantage Plan you are stuck on, to the 5 Star Rating Plan available in your area.  Once you make the election to switch to the 5 Star Plan, you cannot enroll into another plan - whether it has 5 Stars or not.  Only a criteria that fits a Special Election Period will be allowed. Look on the www.Medicare.gov website for the list of Special Election Period examples. The 14 Medicare advantage Plans that received "5 Star Ratings" for 2017 are:      Company Name                           Service Area 1. KS Plan Administrators, LLC -     4 Counties TX 2. Kaiser Found. HP, INC                 31 Counties CA 3. Kaiser Found. HP of CO               17 Counties CO 4. Kaiser Found. of the Mid-            D.C. &         Atlantic States                              11 Counties MD                                                             9 Counties VA 5. Tufts Assoc. HMO                       10 Counties MA 6. BCBS of MA HMO Blue                11 Counties MA 7. Group Health Plan (MN)            87 Counties MN                                                           8 Counties WI 8. Aultcare Health Ins. Corp          12 Counties OH 9. Physicians Health Choice TX     19 Counties TX 10. Gundersen Health Plan            1 County IA,                                                                 8 Counties WI 11. Optimum Healthcare Inc.        25 Counties FL 12. Kaiser Found. HP of NW          9 Counties OR                                                            4 Counties WA 13. Sierra Health & Life Ins.         1 County CO,                   1 County KS, 2 Counties MA, 3 Counties MD.             1 County MI, 2 Counties NJ, 2 Counties PA,               2 Counties TX, 1 County in VA   If you live in the service area of the above 5 Star Rated Plans, you should go onto the Medicare.gov website and compare the 5 Star Plan to the Plan you are currently on. Make sure your doctors are in the network. Make sure ALL your prescription drugs are covered in the formulary. Look at the co-pays, co-insurance and any deductibles. Make sure the "5 Star Plan," is worth "switching" too! Just because it was given a 5 Star Rating from Medicare, doesn't mean the plan will automatically be the best choice for your unique needs. Do your Due Diligence!  You can check the Medicare.gov site for any 5 Star Prescription Drug Plans in your service area and Medicare Advantage Plans that are health plans only and do not offer prescription drug coverage on that particular plan. You can also listen to episode MN061. I give you information on the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment period and information on Special Need Plans. You don't have to be "stuck" on a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesnot suit your needs. This is the time of year to make changes. Make sure you switch to a better plan this time! Questions?? Send them to Support@TheMedicareNation.com Thanks for listening to Medicare Nation. If you like the information that is provided, give us a 5 Star Review on iTunes! The more reviews we get, the more exposure iTunes will give Medicare Nation, and that means more people will be able to find the show. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/medicare-nation/id1031060767?mt=2 Have a happy, peaceful & prosperous week!                         
January 6, 2017
Hello Medicare Nation! Happy New Year to everyone. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. The Annual Enrollment Period is over. I hope each of you did your due diligence in deciding which plan will fit you best for 2017. I have many episodes available for you to learn all about Medicare Advantage Plans, Original Medicare and Part D of Medicare. If you determine the Medicare Advantage Plan you are on is not suitable for you or a loved one in 2017, you may have other options available to you. Right now, you are in the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. It started on December 8th and will end on February 14th of 2017. Here is how you "dis-enroll" from a Medicare Advantage Plan during this time period. 1. Call Medicare 800-633-4227 2. Advise the Medicare Representative that you would like to "dis-enroll" from your current Medicare Advantage Plan and go back onto Original Medicare. 3. You can enroll in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan. 4. You can also enroll in a Supplement to Original Medicare plan, that will assist you in paying your out of pocket costs for Part A & Part B.  Each Supplement to Original Medicare Plan (Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, Plan G, Plan J, Plan K, Plan L and Plan N.) cover different out of pocket Medicare costs. Research each one prior to enrolling in the Supplement plan to determine the plan that will fit your health & financial needs for 2017. If you find it difficult to figure out if Original Medicare and enrolling in a Part D and/or a Supplement to Original Medicare Plan is right for you, contact me at either -  Support@TheMedicareNation.com OR Go to my website..... www.CallSamm.com and tell me in the "Contact Me" how I can assist you.   SPECIAL NEED PLANS Are you a Diabetic? Do you have COPD? Do you have Cardiovascular Disease? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be eligible to enroll in a special needs plan. A special needs plan is a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you are diagnosed with any of the conditions I listed above, you may use a special election to change to a special needs plan one time during the year. How do you determine if you have Special Need Plans in your area? Go to www.medicare.gov and click on the "find health and drug plans." The database will take you through several screens and you should select "special needs plan," when you advise Medicare what type of plan you are on. The database will provide you with the special need plans in your area. You can also look under special election periods, to determine if you have a qualified reason to change. If you like Medicare Nation, please give us a 5 Star Review on iTunes! https://goo.gl/uAhvLe When you leave us a great review, iTunes gives Medicare Nation more exposure. More exposure means individuals who need advise about Medicare will find the show! I appreciate you listening to Medicare Nation! Have a happy, healthy & prosperous week!    
November 29, 2016
  10 Days left in the Annual Enrollment Period. That's plenty of time to find the plan that fits your needs for 2017, The one change that everyone is talking about is the increase to the Medicare Part B Premium. Last month, Social Security announced a .03% COLA for Social Security beneficiaries in 2017. With the COLA announcement, the hold harmless rule is in effect.                   This means if the social security COLA doesn’t cover the increase to the Medicare Part B base premium, those individuals who already have their Medicare Part B premium taken out of their Social Security benefit check will not see that deduction in their benefit check. The hold harmless individuals, who make up about 70% of all Medicare beneficiaries, won’t even come close to covering the $134.00 base Part B premium in 2017.  The hold harmless protection will squeak out a Medicare Part B premium increase of about $109.00. The hold harmless rule does not protect individuals who: Are enrolling in Medicare Part B for the first time. Haven’t started receiving their Social Security Benefits and are enrolled in Medicare Part B. Are directly billed for their Medicare Part B premium Make an annual income of $85,000.00 or more Are enrolled in the Medicare Savings Program (States pay the new Medicare Premium increase). Are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, the State pays for the individual’s Medicare premiums. Individuals who are not protected by the hold harmless rule, and have an annual income of less than $85,000.00, will be paying a base Part B premium of a whopping $134.00 a month in 2017. Individuals with an annual income of more than $85,000.00, but less than $107,000.00, will pay a Part B premium of $107.50 a month. Individuals who earn an annual income between $107,000.00 and $160,000.00, will pay a monthly Part B premium of $243.60. Those who earn an annual income between $160,000.00 up to $214,000.00, will pay $316.70 a month premium for Medicare Part B. Finally, those individuals who earn an annual income of more than $214,000.00, will pay $389.80 a month. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is in full swing and allows Medicare Advantage enrollees the opportunity to voluntarily make plan changes, which are effective January 1, 2017. Individuals can make the following changes during the Annual Enrollment Period: Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan. Drop their Medicare Advantage Plan and go back to Original Medicare. Switch from a Stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan and vice versa. Go from Original Medicare onto a Medicare Advantage Plan. Stay with the Medicare Advantage Plan they currently have. Switch from a Medicare Supplement Plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan. Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan (underwriting may apply). But according to a brief published by The Kaiser Family Foundation in September of 2016, from 2007 – 2014, only an average of 10% of Medicare Advantage enrollees voluntarily switched plans each year. (https://goo.gl/KqmCXL) In my experience, Medicare enrollees do not have enough resources to make informed decisions in selecting a Medicare plan for themselves. During the Annual Enrollment Period, people are bombarded with TV infomercials, newspaper ads, direct mail offerings and inaccurate advice from friends and family. Overwhelming information! So what is the answer for over 31% of Medicare beneficiaries on Medicare Advantage Plans during the Annual Enrollment Period? There are several options available. If you have a Medicare Advisor or Insurance Agent, who can offer you several different Medicare Advantage carriers in their portfolio – call them. It wouldn’t be in your best interest to contact an insurance agent, who works for only one Medicare insurance carrier. These agents are only able to offer you Medicare Advantage Plans from their one carrier. They will not have your best interest in mind. If they don’t enroll you in one of their plans, they won’t get paid. Using a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, who has different Medicare carriers available to you, will have your best interest. They will help find you a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs.   If you don’t personally know a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, you can Google “Medicare Advisor + your town.” An example would be – Medicare Advisor Tampa, FL.  Each State has a Department of Aging, with volunteers to assist you with your Medicare questions. Advise the representative that you’d like to speak with someone who is knowledgeable with the different Medicare Advantage Plans in your area and they will connect you with a person who is unbiased. Many States have educational seminars on Medicare at community Senior Centers. Ask if any will be in your area.   Individuals can go onto the www.Medicare.gov website and use the plan finder database, but understand the information is not 100% complete.  When you are deciding between two plans, go onto the insurance plan's website to look at the plan details to compare out of pocket costs for each plan. The Medicare Part B premium increase for 2017, is going to make many people anxious and frustrated.  It is in your best interest to plan ahead and research your Medicare plan options at least three to four months prior to turning 65. If you are still employed and on an employer’s health insurance plan, compare your cost for your employer’s plan against Medicare plans. Don’t forget to calculate the Medicare Part B premium into your comparison. You can participate in a credible employer health plan and not have to enroll in Medicare Part B when you turn 65. In my experience, I have found over 80% of the time, a Medicare Supplement plan is more cost effective than the employer’s plan. The Medicare Supplement plan also provides the freedom to choose any physician in the United States, who is contracted with Medicare. Take your time and do your due diligence.    “A stitch in time saves nine.” Properly preparing for your initial enrollment in Medicare and choosing a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs, will save you the aggravation and possibly making a poor financial and health coverage decision.   Diane Daniels Medicare Advisor                                                                                           Senior Advocates For Medicare & Medicaid, LLC                                                 855-855-7266
November 11, 2016
The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, has recently announced the costs for Medicare in 2017.  The one change that everyone is talking about is the increase to the Medicare Part B Premium. Last month, Social Security announced a .03% COLA for Social Security beneficiaries in 2017. With the COLA announcement, the hold harmless rule is in effect.                   This means if the social security COLA doesn’t cover the increase to the Medicare Part B base premium, those individuals who already have their Medicare Part B premium taken out of their Social Security benefit check will not see that deduction in their benefit check. The hold harmless individuals, who make up about 70% of all Medicare beneficiaries, won’t even come close to covering the $134.00 base Part B premium in 2017.  The hold harmless protection will squeak out a Medicare Part B premium increase of about $109.00. The hold harmless rule does not protect individuals who: Are enrolling in Medicare Part B for the first time. Haven’t started receiving their Social Security Benefits and are enrolled in Medicare Part B. Are directly billed for their Medicare Part B premium Make an annual income of $85,000.00 or more Are enrolled in the Medicare Savings Program (States pay the new Medicare Premium increase). Are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, the State pays for the individual’s Medicare premiums. Individuals who are not protected by the hold harmless rule, and have an annual income of less than $85,000.00, will be paying a base Part B premium of a whopping $134.00 a month in 2017. Individuals with an annual income of more than $85,000.00, but less than $107,000.00, will pay a Part B premium of $107.50 a month. Individuals who earn an annual income between $107,000.00 and $160,000.00 will pay a monthly Part B premium of $243.60. Those who earn an annual income between $160,000.00 up to $214,000.00 will pay $316.70 a month premium for Medicare Part B. Finally, those individuals who earn an annual income of more than $214,000.00 will pay $389.80 a month. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is in full swing and allows Medicare Advantage enrollees the opportunity to voluntarily make plan changes, which are effective January 1, 2017. Individuals can make the following changes during the Annual Enrollment Period: Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan. Drop their Medicare Advantage Plan and go back to Original Medicare. Switch from a Stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan and vice versa. Go from Original Medicare onto a Medicare Advantage Plan. Stay with the Medicare Advantage Plan they currently have. Switch from a Medicare Supplement Plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan. Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan (underwriting may apply). But according to a brief published by The Kaiser Family Foundation in September of 2016, from 2007 – 2014, only an average of 10% of Medicare Advantage enrollees voluntarily switched plans each year. (https://goo.gl/KqmCXL) In my experience, Medicare enrollees do not have enough resources to make informed decisions in selecting a Medicare plan for themselves. During the Annual Enrollment Period, people are bombarded with TV infomercials, newspaper ads, direct mail offerings and inaccurate advice from friends and family. Overwhelming information! So what is the answer for over 31% of Medicare beneficiaries on Medicare Advantage Plans during the Annual Enrollment Period? There are several options available. If you have a Medicare Advisor or Insurance Agent, who can offer you several different Medicare Advantage carriers in their portfolio – call them. It wouldn’t be in your best interest to contact an insurance agent, who works for only one Medicare insurance carrier. These agents are only able to offer you Medicare Advantage Plans from their one carrier. They will not have your best interest in mind. If they don’t enroll you in one of their plans, they won’t get paid. Using a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, who has different Medicare carriers available to you, will have your best interest. They will help find you a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs.   If you don’t personally know a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, you can Google “Medicare Advisor + your town.” An example would be – Medicare Advisor Tampa, FL.  Each State has a Department of Aging, with volunteers to assist you with your Medicare questions. Advise the representative that you’d like to speak with someone who is knowledgeable with the different Medicare Advantage Plans in your area and they will connect you with a person who is unbiased. Many States have educational seminars on Medicare at community Senior Centers. Ask if any will be in your area.   Individuals can go onto the www.Medicare.gov website and use the plan finder database, but understand the information is not 100% complete.   The Medicare Part B premium increase for 2017 is going to make many people anxious and frustrated.  It is in your best interest to plan ahead and research your Medicare plan options at least three to four months prior to turning 65. If you are still employed and on an employer’s health insurance plan, compare your cost for your employer’s plan against Medicare plans. Don’t forget to calculate the Medicare Part B premium into your comparison. You can participate in a credible employer health plan and not have to enroll in Medicare Part B when you turn 65. In my experience, I have found over 80% of the time, a Medicare Supplement plan is more cost effective than the employer’s plan. The Medicare Supplement plan also provides the freedom to choose any physician in the United States, who is contracted with Medicare. Take your time and do your due diligence.   “A stitch in time saves nine.” Properly preparing for your initial enrollment in Medicare and choosing a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs, will save you the aggravation and possibly making a poor financial and health coverage decision.  Need help with understanding Medicare? Call SAMM is available throughout the Annual Enrollment Period to help educate you about Medicare plans. Call 855-855-7266 for more information. You can also send an email to Support@TheMedicareNation.com  
September 16, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! I’m excited about our guest and our important topic today. We’re discussing the confusion surrounding advanced directives. Have you ever thought about what would happen if you can’t speak for yourself and are in an emergency health situation? Who will express your wishes, and will the health care professionals understand? Dr. Ferdinando (Fred) Mirarchi is the ER Director of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Hamot. He has a solution!  Tell us about health care directives and the issues that commonly arise when people come to the ER. There are three types of directives: living will, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order), and POLST (Physicians’ Order for Life Sustaining Treatment). All three of these have safety issues surrounding them, and all three bring questions. When are they to be followed? None of us know when an emergency situation may arise, so when do we carry these documents with us? Even medical professionals don’t understand these orders, but no one really wants to raise the safety concerns. What happens when someone comes to the ER with no accompanying family and no papers? It’s not just an ER situation, but anywhere in the hospital, for any medical procedure. “You, the patient, are asked if you have a Living Will, then you are subjected to whatever their understanding is as to what that means.” About 78% of the time, physicians assume that a Living Will equals a DNR, but in 64% of cases, a DNR is strictly an end of life order and does not apply to critical care emergencies. Medical professionals assume if you have any advanced directive that you’re an end of life care patient and don’t want care. Many don’t understand the difference between being critically ill and being in an “end of life” situation. If you have advanced directive documents, should you bring them with you to any scheduled procedure, like a colonoscopy? Most physicians would say YES, but I say NO. Keep your document in a safe place so that it doesn’t compromise your care and treatment. Pull it out when you need it, but then you face a retrieval issue. Will the proper medical professional have access to your papers when they need it? We have a process that can insure that those documents are retrieved when needed. Most ER doctors are forced to look at a paper and make an interpretation, based on THEIR understanding, which might not be right for you. Can you explain the difference in a Living Will and a DNR? A Living Will is a legal document, not a medical document. It is for use in situations when someone can’t speak for themselves, develops a terminal condition, or is in a persistent vegetative state. A DNR is specifically for when someone is found with no pulse or breathing, and no CPR is desired. There is a common misunderstanding that a DNR means no medical treatment at all, when it most often applies to end of life care. When someone has a Living Will and the medical professional assumes it’s a DNR, then it can affect care and treatment of any medical emergency. “It’s a coin toss with a 50% chance of being treated or not being treated.” You’ve developed a solution to help people explain their wishes about receiving treatment. Can you explain? At the Institute of Health Care Directives, we have created ID cards containing detailed information to be understood by any medical professional in any hospital. It gives patients a voice to guide their care and treatment. Your ID card has info and directives linked with a QR code that accesses a video recording of your wishes. The recorded video is in a database and can be pulled up on any smart phone for any medical situation you may encounter. Will this ID card work in any medical office, hospital, or ER? Yes, and it’s in clear and understandable medical language so that any professional will know what to do. Can you explain how to find out more and what the service includes? Visit our website: www.institutehcd.com or email us: info@institutehcd.com. You can even call us at 814-490-6584. Dr. Mirarchi is offering a 10% discount to the first 100 MN callers on either of the available packages. The Basic package is for healthy, young people, and the VIP package is for those with multiple medical problems. The VIP package gives you access to an on-call doctor 24/7/365. You can ask any question or any medical professional treating you can call for information about your condition. Our solution is a much clearer and simpler process and has received great response from physicians. The goal is to plan for when you are critically ill and (separately) for when you’re at the end of life. There is a study coming out in 3-6 months on a 15 state trial, and the preliminary results are amazing. This is truly a game-changer in the health care industry. Here is the news story video of the 57y.o. man who was mistakenly noted as "DNR" in his hospital file           whistle blower 9 Investigative news http://www.wsoctv.com/news/9-investigates/whistleblower-9/whistleblower-9-do-not-resuscitate-bracelet-mistakenly-put-on-hospitalized-mans-wrist/446014450    Here is a Parody Video on "Advanced Directives" https://youtu.be/S6XKv7MOuts Good Practice (A parody of Green Day's " Good Riddance") By Michael Barton Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com            
September 9, 2016
Hello Medicare Nation listeners! Today, I’ve put together a few questions from our audience that I’d like to read on the air. Many of you ask the same questions, so I’d like to help out as many of you as I can.   Wendy from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania asks??? HOW DO I GET A REPLACEMENT MEDICARE CARD? If you are on Original Medicare, your Medicare ID card is proof of your Medicare insurance. , If your Medicare card was lost, stolen, destroyed or illegible, you can ask for a replacement card by going online and logging in to your Social Security account at www.ssa.gov If you don’t have an online social security account, you can register one on the www.ssa.gov website. Once you’ve logged into your account, select the “Replacement Documents” tab. Then select “Mail my replacement Medicare Card.”  Your replacement Medicare card will arrive in the mail in about 30 days, at the address on file with Social Security. If you moved and you did not update Social Security with your new address, you must update your new address into the database, or Social Security will be sending your replacement Medicare card to your old address! If you don’t have the internet, a computer or you just want to call Social Security, here’s the number to call: 800-772-1213 You can also go to your nearest Social Security office to get a Medicare card replacement. To find the nearest social security office, get on the home page of www.ssa.gov  “click” on the social security office location tab and type in your zip code for the nearest social security office.   Kenny from Rio Rancho, New Mexico asks?????? WHAT INTERNET BROWSER CAN I USE TO VIEW THE MEDICARE.GOV WEBSITE? The official Medicare.gov website states – For optimal results, use Internet Explorer 8.0 or 9.0. You can also view in Firefox, Chrome and Opera.   June from San Diego – California asks???? WHAT DOES MEDICALLY NECESSARY MEAN? Medicare will only pay for services that are considered to be medically necessary. According to Medicare.gov,  services or supplies are considered medically necessary if they: Are needed for the diagnosis, or treatment of your medical condition. Are provided for the diagnosis, direct care, and treatment of your medical condition. Meet the standards of good medical practice in the medical community of your local area. Are not mainly for the convenience of you or your doctor.                       AN EXAMPLE of NOT “Medically Necessary,” is cosmetic surgery. Maybe you don’t like your nose because it’s too big for your face. Medicare will not pay for cosmetic surgery to make you look pretty. It must be “Medically Necessary.”  A better example would be if your face was disfigured due to a car accident, a fire or a severe dog bite. You will need treatment to stop the bleeding and to prevent infection, so Medicare will pay for the treatment of those types of injuries.  Thanks for listening!  Send your questions to Support@TheMedicareNation.com
September 2, 2016
How to Find a New Prescription Drug Plan Welcome Medicare Nation! Many clients have been contacting me the last several weeks to tell me their Medicare plan has dropped one or several of their prescription drugs from the plan’s formulary. MAPD plans and Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) may change their formularies during the calendar year. Two examples of when they can do this, is if a prescription drug is found to be unsafe by the FDA. If a prescription drug may cause serious injury or death, they will remove the drug from the market. All Medicare plans would be forced to remove that drug from their formulary. Another reason a drug may be removed or added is when a generic of the brand drug comes out. This year Crestor, a brand drug for high cholesterol, became generic. With generic drugs available, the cost of the drug to the Medicare plan goes down. The plan adds the generic to their formulary and either keeps Crestor in addition to the generic, or removes Crestor from the formulary and keeps the generic versions. If you are on a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan (MAPD), you are locked in the plan, until the open enrollment period which begins on October 15th this year, or you have a special enrollment period. You can go to www.Medicare.gov to look up special election periods, or you can listen to episode #36 published on April 15, 2016. Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plans and MAPD plans, which have prescription drugs included, will be announcing their 2017 plans and formularies by October 1, 2016. Several Medicare Advantage Plans or Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plans may be available in your area. How do you compare plans to find the right one for you or your loved one? Use the official Medicare Website Plan Finder’s database. Go to www.Medicare.gov You’ll see a Dark Blue Bar under Medicare.gov Hover your cursor over the tab that reads “Drug Coverage.” Click on the last item in the column labeled “Find Health & Drug Plans.” Add your zip code & click on “Find Plans.” Check the box that pertains to you. Original Medicare? Health Plan (MAPD)? Check the box that pertains to you in regards to assistance. Do you receive extra help? I Don’t Know? Click “Continue.” Now enter your drugs. All of them. When you enter a brand drug, a box will come up asking you if you’d prefer to check the “generic.” If you take the brand, keep the brand drug. If you use the generic – choose the generic. If you don’t know…..choose the generic for now. You can ask your pharmacist or doctor later. Select “My Drug List is Complete.” You’ll see on the right side a grayish box that has a Prescription ID# Copy that number and the Password Date. You will be able to come back and edit the drug list in the future, without having to add all the previous drugs again. What a timesaver! Now select a pharmacy you use. Then select “Continue to plan results” On this page, you’ll see a summary of your search. Select the box that pertains to your plan.    Either Prescription Drug Plan with Original Medicare or    Health Plan with Prescription Drug Plan (MAPD).       All the drug plans in your geographical area available to you will be displayed.       Now you can look at each plan to determine which plans have all your prescription drugs and which ones do not.       You can enroll directly from the Medicare.gov portal, call Medicare directly or call your insurance agent or better yet – your Medicare Advisor.       You have several options.       With your Prescription ID# and the Password Date,  you will be able to come back at a later date and edit your list.       Start getting your list together, so it will be easier for you to check out 2017 plans!  Here's the link to read the guidelines your Primary Doctor uses in prescribing you scheduled drugs. www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com        Go to the Contact page and send me an email or “click” on the “Speak” button and talk to me! No other equipment is needed! Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com    
August 27, 2016
How to Find a New Prescription Drug Plan Welcome Medicare Nation! Many clients have been contacting me the last several weeks to tell me their Medicare plan has dropped one or several of their prescription drugs from the plan’s formulary. MAPD plans and Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) may change their formularies during the calendar year. Two examples of when they can do this, is if a prescription drug is found to be unsafe by the FDA. If a prescription drug may cause serious injury or death, they will remove the drug from the market. All Medicare plans would be forced to remove that drug from their formulary. Another reason a drug may be removed or added is when a generic of the brand drug comes out. This year Crestor, a brand drug for high cholesterol, became generic. With generic drugs available, the cost of the drug to the Medicare plan goes down. The plan adds the generic to their formulary and either keeps Crestor in addition to the generic, or removes Crestor from the formulary and keeps the generic versions. If you are on a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan (MAPD), you are locked in the plan, until the open enrollment period which begins on October 15th this year, or you have a special enrollment period. You can go to www.Medicare.gov to look up special election periods, or you can listen to episode #36 published on April 15, 2016. Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plans and MAPD plans, which have prescription drugs included, will be announcing their 2017 plans and formularies by October 1, 2016. Several Medicare Advantage Plans or Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plans may be available in your area. How do you compare plans to find the right one for you or your loved one? Use the official Medicare Website Plan Finder’s database. Go to www.Medicare.gov You’ll see a Dark Blue Bar under Medicare.gov Hover your cursor over the tab that reads “Drug Coverage.” Click on the last item in the column labeled “Find Health & Drug Plans.” Add your zip code & click on “Find Plans.” Check the box that pertains to you.                                                 Original Medicare?                                                                           Health Plan (MAPD)? Check the box that pertains to you in regards to assistance.                     Do you receive extra help?                                                                      I Don’t Know? Click “Continue.” Now enter your drugs. All of them. When you enter a brand drug, a box will come up asking you if you’d prefer to check the “generic.” If you take the brand, keep the brand drug. If you use the generic – choose the generic. If you don’t know…..choose the generic for now. You can ask your pharmacist or doctor later. Select “My Drug List is Complete.” You’ll see on the right side a grayish box that has a Prescription ID#   Copy that number and the Password Date. You will be able to come back and edit the drug list in the future, without having to add all the previous drugs again. What a timesaver! Now select a pharmacy you use. Then select “Continue to plan results” On this page, you’ll see a summary of your search. Select the box that pertains to your plan.                                           Either Prescription Drug Plan with Original Medicare or                         Health Plan with Prescription Drug Plan (MAPD). All the drug plans in your geographical area available to you will be displayed. Now you can look at each plan to determine which plans have all your prescription drugs and which ones do not. You can enroll directly from the Medicare.gov portal, call Medicare directly or call your insurance agent or better yet – your Medicare Advisor.       You have several options. With your Prescription ID# and the Password Date,  you will be able to come back at a later date and edit your list.  Start getting your list together, so it will be easier for you to check out 2017 plans!   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com        Go to the Contact page and send me an email or “click” on the “Speak” button and talk to me! No other equipment is needed! Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
August 19, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! I just had my annual eye exam and what a surprise I got!  I was diagnosed with Narrow Angle Glaucoma!  How could I be diagnosed with Glaucoma being just 54 years old?   Not only was I diagnosed, but I had to have immediate laser surgery to correct it. I don't want any of you to be diagnosed with Narrow Angle Glaucoma, so I'm going to discuss glaucoma with you to help you understand this disease. There are several types of glaucoma. The two main types I will be discussing today are open-angle and narrow angle glaucoma. These types of glaucoma are marked by an increase of pressure inside the eye.   Open-Angle Glaucoma Open-angle glaucoma, (also called  Chronic Glaucoma), is the most common form of glaucoma, accounting for at least 90% of all glaucoma cases: In open-angle glaucoma, the angle in your eye where the iris meets the cornea is as wide and open as it should be, but the eye’s drainage canals become clogged over time, causing an increase in internal eye pressure and subsequent damage to the optic nerve can occur. It is a lifelong condition and needs to be monitored. It is the most common type of glaucoma, affecting about 3 million Americans, many of whom do not know they have the disease, because you will not have signs or symptoms until it is too late. You are at increased risk of glaucoma if your parents or siblings have the disease, if you are African-American or Latino, and possibly if you are diabetic or have cardiovascular disease. The risk of glaucoma also increases with age.   The 2nd type of Glaucoma is called - Narrow Angle Glaucoma Narrow Angle Glaucoma, also called acute glaucoma, is a less common form of glaucoma – less than 5% of the general population develops Narrow Angle Glaucoma. Far sighted people are more common to have narrow angle glaucoma, since their Front Chamber of their eye is smaller than normal. The Iris can “bow” forward, thinning the angle that drains fluid from the eye. Fluid builds up and so does the pressure inside the eye. This happens when the drainage canals get blocked.  Such as When you put a drainage stopper in the sink or something clogs the drain. With angle-closure glaucoma, the iris (which is the colored portion of your eye – your brown eyes, your blue eyes etc.) is not as wide and open as it should be. The outer edge of the iris can bunch up over the drainage canals, when the pupil enlarges too much or too quickly. This can happen when entering a dark room. Unlike open-angle glaucoma, narrow angle glaucoma is a result of the angle between the iris and cornea closing quickly.   What are some Symptoms of Angle-Closure Glaucoma? Hazy or blurred vision The appearance of rainbow-colored circles around bright lights Severe eye and head pain Nausea or vomiting (accompanying severe eye pain) Sudden sight loss  Treatment Treatment for Glaucoma an involve eye drops, laser or conventional surgery. Everyone is unique and may require different treatment. Eye drops A number of medications are currently in use to treat glaucoma. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of medications or change your prescription over time to reduce side effects or provide a more effective treatment. The medications are intended to reduce elevated pressure in your eye and prevent damage to the optic nerve. Eye drops used in managing glaucoma decrease eye pressure by helping the eye’s fluid to drain better and/or decreasing the amount of fluid made by the eye. Combination drugs are available for patients who require more than one type of medication.  2 Types of Laser Surgeries Are: Micropulse Laser Trabeculoplasty (MLT) is a common procedure for the treatment of primary open-angle glaucoma  MLT provides pressure-lowering effects. It is unique in that it uses a specific diode laser to deliver laser energy in short microbursts. MLT is a relatively new laser procedure. Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI) For the treatment of narrow angles and narrow-angle glaucoma. Narrow-angle glaucoma (also known as acute angle glaucoma).           LPI makes a small hole in the iris, allowing it to fall back from the fluid channel and helping the fluid drain. In general, surgery for narrow angle glaucoma is successful and long lasting. Regular checkups are still important though, because a chronic form of glaucoma could still occur.   Conventional Surgery MIGS  stands for minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. The goal of all glaucoma surgery is to lower eye pressure to prevent or reduce damage to the optic nerve. Standard glaucoma surgeries are major surgeries. While they are very often effective at lowering eye pressure and preventing progression of glaucoma, they have a long list of potential complications. The MIGS group of operations have been developed in recent years to reduce some of the complications of most standard glaucoma surgeries. MIGS procedures work by using microscopic-sized equipment (tiny, tiny tubes & shunts) and tiny incisions. While they reduce the incidence of complications, some degree of effectiveness is also traded for the increased safety.   Get Your Annual Exam so your Optometrist can detect any issues with your eyes early!   A Comprehensive Glaucoma Exam Regular glaucoma check-ups include two routine eye tests: tonometry and ophthalmoscopy. Tonometry measures the pressure within your eye. During tonometry, eye drops are used to numb the eye. Then a doctor or technician uses a device called a tonometer to measure the inner pressure of the eye. Eye pressure is unique to each person. Ophthalmoscopy  This diagnostic procedure helps the doctor examine your optic nerve for glaucoma damage. Eye drops are used to dilate the pupil, so that the doctor can see through your eye to examine the shape and color of the optic nerve. If the pressure within your eye is not within the normal range or if the optic nerve looks unusual, your doctor may ask you to have one or two more glaucoma exams: perimetry and gonioscopy.   Perimetry  Perimetry is a visual field test that produces a map of your complete field of vision. This test will help a doctor determine whether your vision has been affected by glaucoma. During this test, you will be asked to look straight ahead and then indicate when a moving light passes your peripheral (or side) vision. This helps draw a "map" of your vision.   Gonioscopy This diagnostic exam helps determine whether the angle where the iris meets the cornea is open and wide or narrow and closed. During the exam, eye drops are used to numb the eye. A hand-held contact lens is gently placed on the eye. This contact lens has a mirror that shows the doctor if the angle between the iris and cornea is closed and blocked (a possible sign of angle-closure or acute glaucoma) or wide and open (a possible sign of open-angle, chronic glaucoma). Pachymetry  Pachymetry is a simple, painless test to measure the thickness of your cornea – (the clear window at the front of the eye over the pupil). Diagnosing glaucoma is not always easy, and careful evaluation of the optic nerve is needed for diagnosis and treatment. Always get a second opinion of any diagnosis of open angle or narrow angle glaucoma.   Resources: http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/video-narrow-angle-glaucoma.php   www.glaucoma.org www.worldglaucoma.org   Do you have a Medicare Question? Send it to Support@TheMedicareNation.com Tell a friend or family member to SUBSCRIBE to Medicare Nation. They’ll get a new episode on their laptop, tablet, or phone every Friday so they won’t miss an episode Find all our shows on the Medicare Nation website – www.TheMedicareNation.com Finally, Medicare nation will be having its ONE YEAR Anniversary in a few weeks. I”d love for you to help me celebrate this past year of guests, topics and questions from listeners….by telling me what you’ve enjoyed most about Medicare Nation. Go to my website www.callsamm.com And “Click” on the contact tab. You’ll see a blue button that says “ Start Recording." You’ll be able to leave a short message of what you’ve enjoyed over the past year on medicare Nation. If you’d like me to announce your celebration message, leave me your first name & city & tell me you want  to be ON Medicare Nation.  
August 12, 2016
The NOTICE ACT On August 6, 2016, The Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act, went into effect. (Sec. 2) This bill amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to require a hospital or critical access hospital with an agreement with the Secretary of Health and Human Services(Medicre) to give each individual who receives observation services as an outpatient for more than 24 hours an adequate oral and written notification within 36 hours after beginning to receive (Observation Services) which: explains the individual's status as an outpatient and not as an inpatient and the reasons why; explains the implications of that status on services furnished (including those furnished as an inpatient), in particular the implications for cost-sharing requirements and subsequent coverage eligibility for services furnished by a skilled nursing facility; includes appropriate additional information; is written and formatted using plain language and made available in appropriate languages; and is signed by the individual or a person acting on the individual's behalf (representative) to acknowledge receipt of the notification, or if the individual or representative refuses to sign, the written notification is signed by the hospital staff who presented it.    Here is the link to the Federal Register, which explains in more detail Procedures Applicable to Beneficiaries Receiving Observation Services: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-04-27/pdf/2016-09120.pdf   Medicare Advantage Plans  “A beneficiary enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or other Medicare health plan would receive the required notice under the existing rules that apply to hospitals and CAHs under a provider agreement governed by the provisions of section 1866(a)(1)(Y) of the Act.”   If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you are covered under the provisions of your plan. READ your plan’s Evidence of Coverage (EOC) to determine what your out-of-pocket expenses will be in this situation.   I am urging each of you to be Pro Active with your own Health Care! If you or a loved one goes to the Emergency Room or a Critical Access Hospital, be prepared to speak up! Speak to the Physician in the ER who is treating you. Ask the physician specifically…..”Am I being ADMITTED to the hospital as an INPATIENT?” If the answer is “Yes,” you will be covered under Medicare Part A benefits.  If the answer is…. “No…..you are UNDER OBSERVATION. OR……”No……you are receiving OUTPATIENT SERVICES.”  You WILL more than likely be responsible for co-payments, co-insurance or maybe ALL charges! Call your Primary Physician or Specialist. Tell the office or Answering Service that you or your Family member is in so and so Emergency Room, so and so hospital and you want your Doctor to either: Come to the hospital and examine you to determine if you should be admitted to the hospital as an inpatient                                            OR Have your doctor speak to the Emergency Room physician who is treating you, in order to determine if you will be admitted or able to be discharged from the Emergency Room.   You Should NOT have to be in an Emergency Room for up to 23 and a quarter hours UNDER OBSERVATION! Your Primary Doctor is the “Quarterback of your health team!” Your Primary Doctor is in charge of your health care! That is what they get paid to do all that extra paperwork for! Put them to work for you!   Do you have a Medicare Question? Send it to Support@TheMedicareNation.com Tell a friend or family member to SUBSCRIBE to Medicare Nation. They’ll get a new episode on their laptop, tablet, or phone every Friday so they won’t miss an episode Don’t know how to subscribe? Visit my short video to show you how to do it – step by step. Find all our shows on the Medicare Nation website – www.TheMedicareNation.com Finally, Medicare nation will be having its ONE YEAR Anniversary in a few weeks. I”d love for you to help me celebrate this past year of guests, topics and questions from listeners….by telling me what you’ve enjoyed most about Medicare Nation. Go to my website www.callsamm.com And “Click” on the contact tab. You’ll see a button that says “ Record Your Message Here.” Click on it and start talking! No equipment required! You’ll be able to leave a short message of what you’ve enjoyed over the past year on Medicare Nation. If you’d like me to announce your celebration message, leave me your first name & city & tell me “I want to be ON Medicare Nation.”     Thank you for being part of Medicare Nation’s Anniversary!
August 5, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! Today, I will be discussing Advance Beneficiary Notices. An Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN), also known as a waiver of liability is a notice you should receive when a provider or supplier offers you a service or item they believe Medicare will not cover. ABNs only apply if you have Original Medicare, are on a Medicare Supplement Plan. ABNs do not apply if you are in a Medicare Advantage private health plan. If you receive an ABN and you're on a Medicare Advantage Plan, ask to speak to the office manager. Providers must give you an ABN when the service or item could be covered by Medicare, but the provider expects that Medicare will not find the care to be medically necessary and will, therefore, deny coverage. The ABN must list the reason why the provider doubts Medicare will cover care. For example, an ABN might say, “Medicare only pays for this test once every ten years.” That would be the case for a colonoscopy, since Medicare pays for a low-risk colonoscopy once every ten years. You should not be receiving an ABN for services or items that are never covered by Medicare, such as hearing aids.  In order to receive an official decision from Medicare, you must: 1. First receive the care or receive the item                                                       2. You must sign the ABN form, agreeing to pay for it yourself if Medicare rejects       coverage. Also, you must select Option 1 on the ABN form in order for the doctor or supplier to bill Medicare! Selecting this option requires your provider to bill Medicare after providing you with the service or item. If you don't select Option 1 on the ABN, you have no chance, nada, zilch chance of Medicare coverage because your doctor is not required to submit the claim. You will receive a Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) from Medicare. The Medicare Summary Notice will show if Medicare has denied payment for a service or item.   If Medicare denies your claim, you should file an appeal. Just because you filled out an ABN does not prevent you from filing an appeal. Medicare has specific rules about an ABN and how it should look. If these rules are not followed, there is a good chance you may not be responsible for the cost of the care. Remember, first you will have to file an appeal to prove your case. Here are a few reasons you would not be responsible for the charges on an ABN Is difficult to read or hard to understand. Is given by the provider (except a lab) to every single patient with no reason to believe the claims may be denied by Medicare. The ABN does not list the actual service provided  The ABN is signed after the date the service was provided. The ABN is handed to you during an emergency or is handed to you just prior to receiving a service (ex:You're on the xray table & they hand you an ABN) An ABN was not given to you when it should have.  You can file an appeal by going to your Medicare Supplement website and search for Appeal Form, call your Medicare Supplement Health Insurance Carrier or you can call Medicare at 800-633-4227 and ask them to mail you an appeal form. Thanks for listening to Medicare Nation! I appreciate you taking your time to listen to the show! Send me your questions to Support@TheMedicareNation.com I might read your question on the air! Like our Facebook page! Go to https://www.facebook.com/MedicareNation  
July 29, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! We have a question today and I know many of you need this information!   MEDICARE SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD SHOW NOTES Here’s quick guide to when you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage Plan:   You can make your initial selection of a Medicare Advantage Plan when you enroll in Medicare at age 65. During the Annual Enrollment Period which is between October 15th through Dec 7th every year. You can dis-enroll from a Medicare Advantage Plan between January 1- Feb 14th, but you would have to go back on to Original Medicare because you cannot switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan at this time. You may have a “Special Election” that qualifies you to change your plan.   The Special Election Period that qualifies you to change your Medicare Advantage Plan, is what we want to focus on today.  There are certain circumstances which allow you to qualify for this option. If You Move If you move and your new residence is not in your plan service area. You would need to notify Medicare as soon as possible, because you have the rest of the current month you are moving and the following 2 full months as the Special Election Period.  If you move to a new address and your plan is still in your service area, but by moving you now have new options available to you that you didn’t previously have, then you would have a Special Election Period to change to one of the new option plans. Snowbirds that live in 2 locations, have to determine which of those residences is your primary residence. Where you vote and where you pay taxes are going to determine which is your primary residence. If you move out of the country for a period of time and now you are coming back to live in the US,  that will trigger a Special Election Period. If you are moving into a long term care facility or a Skilled Nursing Facility with round the clock skilled nursing care, you would have a Special Election Period when you move into the facility, while you are residing in the facility and when you move out of the facility.  Losing Coverage: If you leave your Employer's Insurance Plan, or union through retirement, turning 65, etc. If you had an involuntary loss of drug coverage that was as good or better than Medicare drug coverage(credible coverage), that triggers a SEP. Or if you have had drug coverage through a Medicare Cost Plan and you leave the Cost Plan. If you leave a PACE (Program All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) Program. If you had Medicaid and lost eligibility because of income requirements.   When there are plan changes with Medicare Contracts: If your Medicare Advantage Plan was sanctioned by CMS, then you would be able to contact Medicare directly to request a Special Election Period  to choose another Medicare Advantage Plan. If Medicare terminated a contract with your Medicare Advantage Plan, that will trigger a Special Election Period and CMS will notify you.   Special Circumstances You qualify as a Medicare & Medicaid recipient, you may change Medicare Advantage Plans as often as you'd like! If you qualify for LIS (Limited Income Sources) you may get extra help with prescription drug coverage and a Special Election Period to enroll in a different Medicare Advantage Plan. During your Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare, you may have enrolled in a Medigap plan, and decided to change to a Medicare Advantage Plan during your first enrollment year. If you decide you want to change back to a Medicare Supplement Plan during your first year of coverage, you qualify. SNP Plan - for chronic conditions (Diabetes, Heart Disease, COP) - may change your current Medicare Advantage Plan to enroll in a SNP plan, or you may no longer qualify for a SNP, so you can choose another Medicare Advantage Plan. f an error was made by a federal employee when you signed up for Medicare, and you can prove it, you may be granted an SEP.   *****You cannot get an SEP because your Doctor left the network******** If you have a Medicare Supplement - a Medigap plan, you can change plans whenever you want because there is no SEP for Medicare Supplement Plans.     Precautions: If you have a chronic illness, cancer, cardiovascular disease or other medical conditions, a Medicare Supplement (MediGap) plan does not have to enroll you after your first year of enrollment. You need to be careful and make sure you are going to be able to get coverage when you change plans. The Medicare Supplement carrier may not take you due to pre-existing conditions and once you drop your Medicare Advantage Plan, you may be "locked out" and not able to re-enroll until the next open enrollment period..Medicare Supplement Carriers can discriminate due to pre-existing conditions! The price of Medicare Supplement plans do change as you age, and where you live. Keep that in mind.   Need more information on "Special Enrollment Periods?" www.callsamm.com - has all of this information available for you. Download the Quick PDF List for Special Election Periods.   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
July 22, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! Today I want to explain a brand new bill being introduced in the US House and Senate. It’s the BENES Act (Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act). This bill impacts people eligible for Medicare, specifically those who are nearing the age 65 enrollment period for Part B. The bill was introduced by Rep. Raul Ruiz (Dem.-CA) and Rep. Patrick Mann (Rep.-PA) in the House and by Sen. Bob Casey (Dem.-PA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (Dem.-NY) in the Senate. I hope I can clear up any confusion for you! Let’s look at the current PROBLEM, which boils down to a LACK OF INFORMATION: The current system lets CERTAIN people know when to enroll in Medicare. If you are receiving SSI(disability) or SS benefits, then you will receive a letter as your 65th birthday approaches, advising you of your enrollment period and Medicare effective date. What about those NOT receiving those benefits? THAT is the problem! If you don’t receive current SSI or SS benefits, then the government has no “trigger” to alert you that it’s time to enroll as you approach age 65. If you don’t enroll during your initial enrollment period (three months prior to, including, and following your BIRTHDAY MONTH—for a total of seven months), then significant late penalties can apply. These can raise the premium you pay by as much as 30%! In 2014, ONE MILLION people paid a late penalty. The average monthly premium is $105 and the average late penalty adds an average of 30% to your monthly premium—EVERY MONTH!  Remember the following: If you have worked for 10 years (40 quarters paid into FICA), then you have paid the minimum to qualify for Medicare Part A, premium-free. Part A is the “accommodations” part of Medicare, meaning it covers overnight stays in medical care facilities. Part B covers outpatient services, which includes everything you might need in health care, excluding overnight stays. Under current law, the government will NOT send you any notification of your approaching enrollment period, and then they will assess you a substantial late penalty if you don’t enroll when you should. “It’s all about the mighty dollar, folks!” Let’s look at what the BENES Act will do to correct the PROBLEM: The Act will make it possible for those turning 65 (10,000 Americans EVERY DAY!) to avoid mistakes and will give uniform information about the Part B enrollment process. Each individual will receive a “clear and detailed” notice of Part B enrollment rules that will help them make informed decisions. The government will send a notification when you are 64, letting you know that your initial enrollment period (that 7-month window around your birthday) is approaching. I’m excited about the possibilities of this new law, but it has to get passed first. Congress will reconvene on September 6 after their summer break, and if you want to stay informed about the progress of the BENES Act, then see our resources section. Here’s a listener question from Teresa in Philadelphia: How do I enroll in Medicare? Well, Teresa, there are some options. If you are turning 65 and not currently receiving SSI or SS benefits, then you need to visit www.ssa.gov, go under Menu—Benefits—Medicare, and then scroll down to “Apply for Medicare only.” Click on “Start a New Application” and follow the directions. It should take about 10 minutes! Do it prior to your 65th birthday. My caution is that your personal information must have been updated with the Social Security Administration or there will be delays. If you have moved to a new address, changed your marital status or name, then you will have to go to the local SS office to enroll. You can call 800-772-1213 to enroll over the phone, but it is a LONG process. If you are over 65 and still working and are covered by your employer’s credible insurance plan, and NOT under Part B---then you will have to go to the local office and have two forms with you: the Employer Attestation Form (to prove there have been no gaps in insurance coverage since your 65th birthday) and the Application to enroll in Part B. Find these forms at www.ssa.gov or email me at support@the medicarenation.com and request copies. Thanks for the question, Teresa, and I hope this helps you! Resources: www.medicare.gov  and    www.callsamm.gov can give you information NOW about Medicare enrollment. www.congress.gov  (Keep up with the BENES Act progress—reference House Bill 5772.) www.medicarerights.org   (For great information and resources!)   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
July 15, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! Today’s topic is Diabetes Prevention, based on the expansion of a pilot program instituted by the CMS (Centers for Medicare/ Medicaid Services). I’ll be explaining the program’s components and the results. Join me! What you’ll hear in this episode: Statistics about diabetes: There are currently more than 30 million Americans with Type 2 diabetes. There are TWO deaths every FIVE minutes from diabetes! There are 86 million Americans at a high risk of developing diabetes. One out of three adults have “pre-diabetes,” which means they have higher than normal (normal is
July 8, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! Today’s episode is a Q & A in which I answer questions from two listeners. If you have a question for me about Medicare, then email me: support@themedicarenation.com.  Let’s jump right in! From Mike, in Pleasanton, CA: If my doctor drops out of my HMO network, can I change to a Medicare Advantage plan that the doctor currently takes? Here’s the thing, Mike: when you enroll in Medicare Advantage, you are in a “locked-in” period unless you have a “special election.” A special election can occur for a number of reasons: if you moved to a different county with new plans, or if CMS (Center for Medicare Services) decided to terminate a Medicare Advantage policy and you need to find a new one. Another situation for special election would be if you are still working, at age 65 or over, and are covered under your employer’s plan and aren’t on Part B. If you need to drop your employer’s coverage and enroll in Part B, then a special election would exist. Unfortunately, doctors can drop out of an HMO or PPO anytime, although they do have to give 60 days’ notice.  Mike, you will have to change doctors unless this occurs between October 15 and December 7, which is the open enrollment period, or unless you have a special election period. Your situation would not be considered for special election. It’s unfortunate, but it is very common and happens to many people each year. The doctors do this because of money, but keep in mind that if you follow a doctor to another plan, then the same thing can occur again. I hope this helps. Visit www.callsamm.com or www.medicare.gov for more information.   From Sharon, in Austin, TX: How much will I have to pay to be in the hospital for 7 days? Well, Sharon, the answer depends upon your plan. If you have original Medicare, Part A, then you have what I like to call  “accommodations insurance.” This means overnight stays are covered, with a deductible of $1288 for any stay of 1-60 days. All services and procedures in the hospital would then be covered for you. From days 61-90, you would pay $322/day for the same coverage. Of any stay of more than 90 consecutive days, you can draw on your lifetime reserve of 60 days at a cost of $644/day. Keep in mind, though, that those extra 60 days are a “lifetime piggy bank” of days, and you can’t get them back once you use them. The old adage, "You use them - You lose them," applies here. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, then they are all different. An HMO will have a smaller network, and your co-pay will range from $0-$250/day. A PPO network is larger, therefore, your co-pay for an inpatient hospital stay will range from $0-$425/day. You would need to contact your Medicare Advantage Carrier to determine the exact amount of what your inpatient hospital co-pay will be. There are also Medicare Supplements (MediGap) plans, such as the F plan, G plan, and N plan. For these plans, you pay your monthly premium, but then have $0 out-of-pocket "medically necessary" inpatient hospital stays. Other Medicare Supplement (MediGap) Plans have a Part A deductible. Again, you need to contact your Medicare Plan customer service representative to determine your exact cost. Sorry, I can’t be more specific since I don’t know your plan, Sharon, but I hope this information is helpful for you. Thanks for the question!   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com
July 1, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! I’m excited about our guest and our important topic today. We’re discussing the confusion surrounding advanced directives. Have you ever thought about what would happen if you can’t speak for yourself and are in an emergency health situation? Who will express your wishes, and will the health care professionals understand? Dr. Ferdinando (Fred) Mirarchi is the ER Director of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Hamot. He has a solution! Join us to learn more! Tell us about health care directives and the issues that commonly arise when people come to the ER. There are three types of directives: living will, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order), and POLST (Physicians’ Order for Life Sustaining Treatment). All three of these have safety issues surrounding them, and all three bring questions. When are they to be followed? None of us know when an emergency situation may arise, so when do we carry these documents with us? Even medical professionals don’t understand these orders, but no one really wants to raise the safety concerns. What happens when someone comes to the ER with no accompanying family and no papers? It’s not just an ER situation, but anywhere in the hospital, for any medical procedure. “You, the patient, are asked if you have a Living Will, then you are subjected to whatever their understanding is as to what that means.” About 78% of the time, physicians assume that a Living Will equals a DNR, but in 64% of cases, a DNR is strictly an end of life order and does not apply to critical care emergencies. Medical professionals assume if you have any advanced directive that you’re an end of life care patient and don’t want care. Many don’t understand the difference between being critically ill and being in an “end of life” situation. If you have advanced directive documents, should you bring them with you to any scheduled procedure, like a colonoscopy? Most physicians would say YES, but I say NO. Keep your document in a safe place so that it doesn’t compromise your care and treatment. Pull it out when you need it, but then you face a retrieval issue. Will the proper medical professional have access to your papers when they need it? We have a process that can insure that those documents are retrieved when needed. Most ER doctors are forced to look at a paper and make an interpretation, based on THEIR understanding, which might not be right for you. Can you explain the difference in a Living Will and a DNR? A Living Will is a legal document, not a medical document. It is for use in situations when someone can’t speak for themselves, develops a terminal condition, or is in a persistent vegetative state. A DNR is specifically for when someone is found with no pulse or breathing, and no CPR is desired. There is a common misunderstanding that a DNR means no medical treatment at all, when it most often applies to end of life care. When someone has a Living Will and the medical professional assumes it’s a DNR, then it can affect care and treatment of any medical emergency. “It’s a coin toss with a 50% chance of being treated or not being treated.” You’ve developed a solution to help people explain their wishes about receiving treatment. Can you explain? At the Institute of Health Care Directives, we have created ID cards containing detailed information to be understood by any medical professional in any hospital. It gives patients a voice to guide their care and treatment. Your ID card has info and directives linked with a QR code that accesses a video recording of your wishes. The recorded video is in a database and can be pulled up on any smart phone for any medical situation you may encounter. Will this ID card work in any medical office, hospital, or ER? Yes, and it’s in clear and understandable medical language so that any professional will know what to do. Can you explain how to find out more and what the service includes? Visit our website: www.institutehcd.com or email us: info@institutehcd.com. You can even call us at 814-490-6584. Dr. Mirarchi is offering a 10% discount to the first 100 MN callers on either of the available packages. The Basic package is for healthy, young people, and the VIP package is for those with multiple medical problems. The VIP package gives you access to an on-call doctor 24/7/365. You can ask any question or any medical professional treating you can call for information about your condition. Our solution is a much clearer and simpler process and has received great response from physicians. The goal is to plan for when you are critically ill and (separately) for when you’re at the end of life. There is a study coming out in 3-6 months on a 15 state trial, and the preliminary results are amazing. This is truly a game-changer in the health care industry. Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com    
June 24, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! My guest today is Dr. Steven Loomis, an optometrist in Littleton, CO. Dr. Loomis is also the president of the American Optometric Association. Did you know that June is Cataract Awareness Month? It’s important to know what cataracts are, how they develop, and how to treat them. Dr. Loomis is here to discuss those topics and others related to general eye health. Join us! Many people don’t understand the difference between an optometrist and ophthalmologist. Can you explain?  Think of an optometrist “like a family doctor for your eyes.” These are medical doctors with four years of undergraduate education and four years of specialization. They deal with eye issues such as blurred vision, diabetes, and glaucoma. Optometrists actually diagnosed 240,000 cases of diabetes in 2014! An ophthalmologist is an eye surgeon who works in conjunction with a patient’s optometrist. We know we need comprehensive eye exams, but how often should we get them, and what is included in that exam? An annual exam is recommended unless there is a condition that warrants more frequent care. Specific tests are included, such as visual acuity, auto refraction, an image of the inside of the eye, visual field, blood pressure, and a check of the pupils. The doctor will also ask questions about medical family history.  What exactly does “20/20 vision” mean? Vision is based on the Snellen Acuity Chart, which was invented by Dr. Snellen over 100 years ago. It is the basic eye chart we are all familiar with that has a series of letters or shapes of certain sizes. The “20 foot” standard has been established, meaning that you see what you should see at a distance of 20 feet. A vision of 20/30 or 20/40 means that you see at 20 ft. what the normal eye sees at 30 or 40 ft. Some people see better than normal, like 20/15. It’s interesting how they measure the 20 feet distance, when most exam rooms are not 20 ft. long. The chart might be 12 ft. away from the patient on the wall, and a mirror is placed 8 ft. behind the patient, to make up the 20 ft. distance. As we age, does 20/20 vision decrease? Yes, unfortunately. It’s completely normal because our eyes age as do other parts of our bodies. As your lens ages, cataracts may form and the retina and cornea lose some functionality. What are “floaters,” and can they clear up? Floaters are very common. They can be seen during an eye exam with dilated eyes. What happens is that the vitreous fluid in the eye, which should be firm, solid, and gelatinous, begins to liquefy as we age. This more liquid substance has fibers in it that appear in our vision as floaters. The good news is that they can clear up; they can shrink, sink, and then we THINK they are gone. If floaters increase or change, then see your optometrist to be checked. What is glaucoma? In short, it occurs when the pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve. Risk factors include family history, racial characteristics, age, and medications. The first symptom is often vision loss.  If glaucoma is indicated, what is the treatment? Medications can control the pressure. Usually eye drops are prescribed once daily and can safely manage the disease. What are cataracts and how are they treated? Cataracts are very, very common and usually show up around age 60. The lens becomes not as clear as it used to be as it loses its clarity and transparency. Exposure to UV rays can cause them, as well as steroids, diabetes, radiation treatments, eye trauma, and eye surgery. The #1 cause? Too many birthdays! There is no treatment needed for early cataracts, but they can worsen to cause hazy vision and nighttime glare. Surgery is the only cure, where the natural lens is removed and an artificial lens is implanted. The good news is that your lens prescription can be incorporated into the artificial lens so your vision is improved on multiple layers. (Tune in to hear a fascinating account of cataract surgery details! Did you know it only takes 5-8 minutes to complete?) How do Medicare benefits factor into cataract surgery? Medicare will pay for a monofocal artificial lens, but the patient can pay for an upgraded lens if desired. Medicare, depending on your plan, will pay a portion of glasses or contacts needed for after surgery. Final words from Dr. Loomis: Keep up with your annual eye exams and discuss options with your doctor when issues arise. Visit www.aoa.org for more information and for their “doctor locator” tool. Question from Eileen in PA: Does Medicare cover eyeglasses? The answer is no, except for what is needed after cataract surgery, and then a portion may be covered under your plan.   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com      
June 18, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! Today we’re talking about Shingles. I recently had shingles and my eyes were opened to how painful it is. It’s really a terribly painful illness, so I wanted to give you some facts and tips to help you diagnose your symptoms early.         What is Shingles?   A virus that is a type of herpes zoster virus. You can only get shingles if you’ve had chicken pox. The virus stays dormant in your spine and attach itself to some of the nerves in your spine. Then something comes along and activates it when you have a lower immune system. If you are on auto-immune suppressing drugs, you are more susceptible to the virus.   Increased stress can also trigger an outbreak of shingles.       What are the symptoms?   A blistery rash that generally starts around your back and wraps around your side. I got a blister on the palm of my hand. About a week before the outbreak, you can begin having pain from the nerve endings being affected.    Patches of blisters will grow and then they are painful. You can have headaches and other pain that goes along with it.   The virus starts coming down your nerve path and it becomes extremely painful. The pain is similar to neuropathy pain.       Treatment?   Because I sought treatment within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, I was able to take an anti-viral medication. This caused the pain to being to lessen over the next few days.   Anti-Viral medications   Acyclavir Valacyclavir     Lidocaine can be given to block the pain. Advil.,Motrin will also be given to lessen pain.       Anybody can get shingles. More likely to occur in older folks because the immune system is naturally weaker.   50% of people over the age of 60 to get shingles.     Shingles is contagious. It is contagious when the blisters are broken open and oozing. Direct contact with open blisters should be avoided.   Shingles Vaccine - given to people 60 and over - Zostavax. There is a 51% chance of not getting the virus when you get the vaccine.    Who should NOT get the vaccine? -People with allergies to gelatin If you are allergies to neomycin If you have a weekend immune system from AIDS or other illness If you have leukemia or lymphoma If you are pregnant    Info about Shingles Vaccine:    Medicare Advantage plans will require a co-pay. Find out what it costs with your plan by calling customer service with you plan.   Original Medicare - you will pay 20%   Medigap - you won’t pay anything     There is no season for shingles. Anyone can get it at any time.   You can find out more about shingles here.   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
June 10, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! I’ve had a busy two weeks and have just returned from a conference in Miami for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. I have been flooded with emails, so today’s episode will be a Q&A session in which I address as many of those questions as possible. Join me! From Steve in Texas: “I’m turning 65 in July and your program has been helpful to me. Can I change Part D prescription options over time without having to pass insurability determinations?” The options can be confusing. You can change Part D plans during the annual enrollment period, from October 15-December 7. You can change plans every year, if needed. You should review your plans yearly, based on your prescription needs and usage.   From Dottie: “I have a Medicare Advantage Plan with Blue Cross. When I get the benefits summary, do the fees reflect those set by Medicare or do the doctors make these up?” Every Medicare insurance carrier negotiates with each doctor and facility so they have a contract for how much the doctor gets paid for services. The summary shows what the doctor usually charges, what your plan covers, and what your co-pay amount is. What you see is what the doctor normally charges, but NOT what you will pay. The negotiated rate will be applied by your plan and you pay your co-pay or co-insurance.   From Dottie, the 2nd part of her question: “If I want to change to another Medicare Advantage Plan, can I keep my same doctor even if he isn’t in the network?” Remember, Medicare Advantage is all about being in a network. It’s a “pay as you go” plan because you only pay for what you need. If your doctor is not in network, you have to decide what’s more important. Do you have to stay with that doctor or do you value the plan’s benefits more? You may need to change plans or pay out of pocket. This depends upon if your plan is an HMO or a PPO. A PPO has an out of network option but you will pay a higher co-pay. An HMO in Medicare Advantage doesn’t allow any out of network options. I hope these questions and answers have been helpful to you. If need be, we’ll add another show each week just to cover your questions. So, keep those coming!  Email me: support@themedicarenation.com. Remember, you can visit www.medicare.gov for more information.  Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
June 3, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! Can you believe the month of June is here? The year is rolling right along, and you may not be aware that June is Aphasia Awareness Month. If you’re not familiar with aphasia, you should know that it’s an acquired disorder that affects a person’s ability to speak and to process language, but it does not affect intelligence. Let’s learn more about this disorder. Here are a few basic facts about aphasia: Often, aphasia is the result of brain injury, brain tumor, neurological disease, or stroke. (25-40% of stroke survivors will have aphasia.) About 2 million Americans are affected by aphasia, with 180,000 acquiring it yearly. Aphasia can affect any age, race, ethnicity, and gender. Those over age 60 have the highest aphasia rates, with those over age 40 being the second highest. The rate of occurrence is the same for all other age groups. Aphasia can’t be cured but can be treated and improved with speech and occupational therapy, and these are covered by Medicare, depending on the plan. Some helpful therapies can be done via an app or on a computer. Many of these costs can be reimbursed, depending on your Medicare plan. Aphasia is self-diagnosable because the signs are noticeable, and may include social isolation, repeated actions/words, and jumbled/slurred speech. There are several types of aphasia: Global aphasia is the most severe form. It leaves the person unable to speak more than a few words and they can’t understand spoken words or read. Broca’s aphasia has characteristics of reduced speech output, limited vocabulary, but the person can understand language and read. Mixed Non-fluent aphasia makes it hard to speak and limits comprehension. The person cannot read or write beyond the elementary school level. Wernicke’s aphasia leaves the person fluent, where they can grasp the overall meaning of a sentence, but may not comprehend individual word meanings. Primary progressive aphasia is a rare neurological syndrome in which brain tissue degenerates. To find out more about aphasia, visit the website for the National Aphasia Association: www.aphasia.org. You may contact them via email: naa@aphasia.org or find them on Facebook: Aphasia Recovery Connect. Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com    
May 27, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! Today’s episode is Part 2 of our interview series live from the Interdisciplinary Symposium on Osteoporosis held by the National Osteoporosis Foundation in Miami, FL. Today’s episode features some of the leading Osteoporosis practitioners in the country, as well as an important summary of Medicare Benefits that relate to the treatment of Osteoporosis.   Today’s episode features:     Medicare Benefits for Bone Mass Measurement (Bone Density) Testing     How often is it covered?   Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers this test, which helps to see if you're at risk to broken bones, once every 24 months (more often if medically necessary) for people who meet the criteria below. Medicare only covers this test when it's ordered by a doctor or other qualified provider.   Who's eligible?   All qualified people with Part B who are at risk for osteoporosis and meet one or more of these conditions: •A woman whose doctor determines she's estrogen deficient and at risk for osteoporosis, based on her medical history and other findings •A person whose X-rays show possible osteoporosis, osteopenia, or vertebral fractures •A person taking prednisone or steroid-type drugs or is planning to begin this treatment •A person who has been diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism •A person who is being monitored to see if their osteoporosis drug therapy is working   Your costs in Original Medicare   You pay nothing for this test if the doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts assignment.     Some good times to talk to your Physician about this testing:   During your “new to Medicare” visit to Dr. visit, discuss preventative exams with Dr, they can suggest bone density.   Annual wellness visit to Dr - talk about bone density exam     Listen to this episode to hear interviews from the following professionals:     Dr. Thomas Olinginski - Tom Olenginski, MD, FACP is an associate in Rheumatology at Geisinger Medical Center. A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and Penn State College of Medicine, he completed both his General Internal Medicine Residency and Rheumatology Fellowship at Geisinger Medical Center. Since 2008, he has been Co-Director of Geisinger’s High-Risk Osteoporosis Clinic. He is Chair of Geisinger’s Bone Density Committee and is responsible for Geisinger’s Osteoporosis Curriculum within its Rheumatology Fellowship. He has also served as a member of the NBHA Secondary Fracture Prevention Committee. His major interests are daily clinical care as a rheumatologist, teaching within Geisinger’s Rheumatology Fellowship and Internal Medicine Residency, as well as metabolic bone disease and system-based osteoporosis care, clinically-oriented bone density interpretation, and Geisinger’s Fracture Liaison Service. Sherri Betz - SHERRI BETZ, PT, GCS, CEEAA, PMA®-CPT is a 1991 graduate of the Louisiana State University Medical Center's School of Physical Therapy. Sherri actually began her career as a national gymnastics competitor and as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer for Nautilus Fitness Centers in the 1980's. Inspired by the work of a physical therapist in one of the clubs where she trained, Sherri pursued a degree in physical therapy. Selected to serve on the Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education (FORE) Professional Education Committee and the NOF Exercise and Rehabilitation Advisory Council, Sherri is involved in improving awareness about bone health for the lay public, exercise teachers and for healthcare professionals. These committees review the latest updates in research, develop guidelines and design educational programs for physicians and allied health professionals. She has developed the "Do It Right and Prevent Fractures Booklet" for FORE/American Bone Health. Dr. Steven Harris - Steven Harris, MD is a board-certified internist and endocrinologist with a subspecialty focus on osteoporosis, metabolic bone disease and disorders of mineral metabolism. He received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, and completed a residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine at the same institution. He completed a clinical and research fellowship in Endocrinology and Metabolism at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In 1983, he returned to the University of California, San Francisco, where he is a Clinical Professor of Medicine. Dr. Harris has spent many years working on a variety of clinical research projects to examine the effects of nutrition, calcium supplements, vitamin D, hormone therapy, bisphosphonates, calcitonin, PTH and SERMs upon the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Dr. Harris maintains an active consultative practice in metabolic bone disease, but is also engaged in a wide variety of educational initiatives related to osteoporosis. Dr. Sandesh Nagamani - graduated from the J S S MED COLL, MYSORE UNIV, MYSORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA in 2000. He works in Houston, TX and specializes in Genetics, Medical. Dr. Sreenath Nagamani is affiliated with Methodist Hospital and St Lukes Hospital At The Vintage. He speaks English and Spanish. As an adult clinical geneticist, he provides clinical care for adult patients with a wide variety of heritable conditions. Dr. Nagamani serves as the Director of the Clinic for Metabolic and Genetic disorders of bone that caters to adult subjects with OI, heritable disorders of bone, early-onset osteoporosis, and other common forms of metabolic bone diseases.     Check out the Food4Bones app for iPhone and Android   www.nof.org   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
May 20, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! I interviewed clinicians and global experts in the bone health field gathered during the Interdisciplinary Symposium on Osteoporosis  held in Miami, Florida from May 12 to 15, 2016. May is the National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Clinicians and Academicians Joined  the National Osteoporosis Foundation to Identify Solutions for Reducing the Two Million Broken Bones Caused by Osteoporosis Each Year. This conference was sponsored by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), the organization dedicated to preventing osteoporosis, promoting strong bones, and reducing human suffering through education, advocacy, and research.  NOF is committed to promoting bone health among the elderly through healthy diet and safe exercise.  Both can help stop the loss of bone mass and help prevent fractures.    Leading medical and scientific experts in the bone health field discussed  the latest information on preventing broken bones and lead in-depth educational sessions on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis.   I met brilliant doctors, nurses, and therapists from all over the world and learned about:   Prevention and treatment of  osteoporosis  Education for prevention of people at risk There are 54 million Americans who suffer from osteoporosis  To address this significant care gap, the ISO 2016 included training on preventive care model that operates under the supervision of a bone health specialist and seeks to prevent repeat fractures.  The Fracture Liaison Service (FLS) Model of Care Training Course is designed to help doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses and other healthcare professionals improve the care management of post-fracture patients and navigate the complicated coordination of care process across hospitals, medical offices and multiple medical specialties through the application of best practices. The FLS model of care is the key to sparing millions of American from breaking bones due to osteoporosis. This 2016 ISO includes updated FLS training, and the introduction of Bone Health ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), a strategy of telementoring FLS coordinators and healthcare professionals of all levels, with the aim of reducing the osteoporosis treatment gap  said E. Michael Lewiecki, MD, FACP, FACE, New Mexico Clinical Research & Osteoporosis Center, Co-Chair ISO Planning Committee 2016.  If you are over 50 and have hip or back fracture, then you have osteoporosis.  Secondary fractures can occur, too.  Every year, osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones, yet fewer than 25 percent of older women and men who suffer from a fracture are tested or treated for osteoporosis.  So many things can happen, secondary fracture, pneumonia,  You can find the best information about osteoporosis from  www.nof.org   National Osteoporosis Foundation.   Listen to the first part of a 2-part interview. Learn about food for the bones, calcium-enriched diet, safe exercises for the elderly.  We are on iTunes, and Google Play.  Please tell your friends about medicare nation, and the 3 other shows I have.  You shouldn’t be breaking your hip or back. If you get fractured, you have osteoporosis. Susan Randall     Osteoporosis  is the condition where the bone is weakened and impaired and more prone to rapture.   Causes of osteoporosis include: aging and decline in estrogen and testosterone Women and men both have the same hormones. Both lose these key  hormones as we age   These hormones influence other bodily functions.  As the hormones decline, bone strength and quality are affected  Treatment for breast cancer  put on a class of medications  that are aromataste  inhibitor  Primary and secondary causes of osteoporosis. It’s multifactorial    2.   Dr. Sanjeev Arora     Dr. Arora, MD,  is the Keynote speaker , head of Project ECHO and  Improving Health in Underserved Populations through Technology;   He is from the University of New Mexico;   Project ECHO,  Extension for  Community Health Outcome use the FLS model to improve efficiencies and democratize medical knowledge. Project ECHO uses video conferencing technology where conference participants  can talk  via skype about the best  treatment  in underserved nations.  It’s a new platform for medicine  Project ECHO is based on the  idea that a multidisciplinary team of providers  can attract outcome in the internet  The project targets meeting the medical needs of a billion people by 2020. It currently connects 13 countries and hundreds of universities and clinics. Additional ISO16 Highlights include: Sessions exploring the controversies in osteoporosis treatment and care; New tools for assessing fracture risk; Interactive sessions on safe exercises for people with osteoporosis; Evidence-based answers to the most common patient questions on osteoporosis and fracture prevention; Professional development workshops on patient education and new coding and reimbursement for osteoporosis;  3.  Karen Kemmis    Karen is a Physical Therapist specializing in safe exercises and movements. Silver sneakers – use  gyms medicare vantage plan  Some exercise and moves  could be dangerous for the elderly  Many fitness instructors are not well versed with  chronic  conditions we have to be careful  what is safe for their particular condition Anything in the upright position is safe  for the low-density bone mass Dangerous moves include forward bending  such as toe touches, twisting hard, full rotation, sit-ups   Safe exercise moves include  lying on the back;  lay grazing, isometric exercise,   To work safely with a fitness instructor  tell them about your bone concern, go to www. nof.org, search  positive exercises,  print those materials and bring to instructor  4.  Dr Maria Pesquera   Is a primary physician in Albany, New York  and has a lot of patients who have osteoporosis.  Her medical team is  having issues with medication used for treating osteoporosis She favors exercise alternatives such as yoga and pilates. She promotes a Holistic method of treatment that includes  healthy diet   Resources:    National Osteoporosis website:  www.nof.org  The best way to contact ECHO and Dr. Arora is via the website:  echo.unm.edu     I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com      
May 13, 2016
May 10th was World Lupus Day. So today, we wanted to highlight the disease so that we can get the word out.     Linda Ruescher, author, public speaker and Lupus advocate is our guest today. Linda actually has Lupus as well.   How many people in the US have Lupus?   1.5 Million people in the US.   What is LUPUS?   An auto-immune disease in which your body mistakes other body parts are toxins and invaders and tries to kill them. Lupus doesn’t have one particular body part that it targets. It can go after any part of your body.   Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because:   It flares instead of being chronic The symptoms are the same as other diseases There is no definitive test for Lupus Generally they try to diagnose other things first A rheumatologist can be necessary to get a diagnosis     Lupus is like having a never-ending flu. The symptoms are the same, and the body reacts in the same way.   After 38 years undiagnosed, Linda was diagnosed in 2003. She is treated today with immune-suppressing drugs. She also takes a chemotherapy drug. It is important to know that Lupus is not cancer. The reason chemo drugs are used is because the side effect of weakening your immune system is desirable for Lupus patients.     Lupus primarily affects women in their child-bearing years.    UVA/UVB light can cause flares, so Lupus patients should stay out of the sun.   If you are on Medicare, and IV infusion would be covered under Medicare Part A.     Linda’s book, The 100 Questions and Answers About Chronic Illness. was written after she exhausted the reading of all the other books and getting peeved that she couldn’t find the information she needed.   You can find her book on amazon.com, and in the paperback and Kindle versions.   Lupus Symptoms:   •Fatigue and fever •Joint pain, stiffness and swelling •Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose •Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity) •Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud's phenomenon) •Shortness of breath •Chest pain •Dry eyes •Headaches, confusion and memory loss     If you have 3 or more symptoms, see your Dr. If you aren’t getting anywhere with your Dr, then go see a Rheumatologist (or get a referral to one).     Resources:   www.rheumatology.org - find a Dr. by zip code     Lupus Foundation of America - www.lupus.org   Lupus Florida - www.lupusflorida.com     Contact Linda Ruescher:   On Twitter: www.twitter.com/chronicillness On Facebook: www.facebook.com/Linda Ruescher Email: linda.ruescher@gmail.com   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
May 6, 2016
Today’s topic is the Medicare Savings Program. It can help you pay part of your Medicare premiums. It’s based on certain criteria of your income and resources.   2016 Medicare Savings Programs:   Resources include stock, bonds, 401K, IRA.   It does not include your home, 1 vehicle and other personal items.     4 Levels of Coverage:   QDWI Plan: (Qualified, Disabled, and Working Individual) Monthly income limit - $4045 (Married $5425)  Resource limit - $4000 (Married $6000)       QI Plan: (Qualifying Individual)   Monthly income limit: $1357 (Married $1823) Resource limit: $7280 (Married $10,930) Pays Part B Premium - $104.90 New to Medicare - $121.80     Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary Program (SLIM-B)   Monthly income limit: $1208 (Married $1622) Resource limit: $7280 (Married $10,930) Pays Part B Premium - $104.90 New to Medicare - $121.80     Qualified Medicare beneficiary (QMB)   Pays Part A, Part B Premium, Deductibles, Co-pays Monthly income limit: $1010 (Married $1355) Resources limit: $7280 (Married $10,930)     How to Apply:   Go online to www.ssa.gov. Click “Benefits”, then “Extra Help for RX Drugs”, look on right side for “Application”. Go to the Social Security office (find locations on ssa.gov) to apply Go through your state Medicaid Program - Google “medicare” and your state   It may take 4-6 weeks for them to send you an acceptance/rejection letter.  You have to re-qualify annually.   Questions?    Call SSA at 800-772-1212 Email me: support@themedicarenation.com Call me: 855-855-7266   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
April 29, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation!  Today, I want to tell you about the federal government program called The Extra Help program, also called Limited Income Subsidy (LIS).  If you never heard of this program, you may be missing out on some additional subsidies for your prescription drug purchases. So let’s walk through the program to see if you qualify. Qualifications for the Program: 1. Must be a resident of one of the 50 states in America 2. Your resources (savings, stocks, bonds, 401k etc.) cannot exceed $13,640 (married $27,250) 3. Your annual income cannot be more than $17,820/yr (married $24,030) 4. If you support someone else who resides with you (not your spouse), you may qualify for a higher threshold   How to Apply for Extra Help: The easiest route is to apply through Social Security 1. Apply online: www.ssa.gov - click benefits and then apply for extra help  2. Call Social Security directly at 800-772-1213 3. Go to your local Social Security office - find locations at www.ssa.gov  Make sure you keep a paper trail of your application.  If you go in person, get them to stamp your application to prove they received it     Automatic qualifications: On Medicare and Medicaid you are a dual enrollee If you receive SSI income If you receive Medicaid   You have to re-qualify every year. Social Security will send you a letter and determine your eligibility for the next year around August. You can get an overview of the Extra Help program by emailing support@themedicarenation.com and ask for the Extra Help pamphlet.   You can call me with questions at 855-855-7266. Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
April 22, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! Hot Topic – The Comprehensive Care For Joint Replacement Model (CJR Model) Hip Replacements & Knee Replacements are the MOST COMMON Inpatient Surgery for Medicare Beneficiaries. In 2014 over 400K procedures were done, which cost Medicare over 7 Billion $ for the Hospitalization for these procedures ALONE. Hip & Knee Replacement Surgeries can require long recovery time & long Rehab periods. I KNOW!  I’m not even on Medicare yet, and I’ve had TWO Arthroscopic Knee Surgeries, and each surgery took me about a good 6 MONTHS to recover.   This is the SCARY PART!   The Quality & Care you receive VARIES from one Hospital to the next! Complications like – Infections received at the hospital …….OR Implant Failures Can be 3X Higher Performed at Some Hospitals More Than Other Hospitals. To me……that is just NEGLIGENCE!  When you go into a hospital……you expect to receive the best care, a clean environment and YOU SHOULD NOT  CONTRACT  ANY INFECTION OR DISEASE from the Hospital you’re being treated at!  That’s what you Expect from a Hospital…..NOTHING LESS. But……it is apparently going on RIGHT NOW Nation! And it takes a CMS LAW or MODEL PROGAM to prevent it from happening in EVERY Hospital? Aye,,yi,,,yi.   WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO YOU? In episode 34 on Medicare Nation, you listened to Melissa’s Story. Melissa’s story is about the struggles she had with her mother, who suffered a broken hip and the FRAGMENTED care her mom received while in the hospital and the struggles she had in moving her mom to a skilled care facility and then setting up home care physical therapy for her mom. That is why all this is happening Nation! There is a LACK OF COMMUNICATION, between Hospital Staff, other Doctor’s, Skilled Nursing Facilities and Home Care Physical Therapy. NO ONE is talking to anyone else! The LINKS in the CHAIN of Patient Care is BROKEN, and YOU are paying for it!  This FRAGMENTATION of Care is causing LONGER RECOVERY TIMES, HIGHER HOSPITAL RE-ADMISSIONS & HIGHER OUT OF POCKET COSTS FOR YOU & FOR MEDICARE. The Comp Care Joint Replace Model Addresses the LOW QUaLITY CARE & Higher Costs that come from this FRAGMENTED CARE, by – PROMOTING CO-ORDINATED PATIENT CENTERED CARE! Imagine that Nation!  Putting the Patient 1st! What a New Concept!   HOW  WILL  THE  CJR  MODEL  WORK? Started  April 1,  2016 The hospital in which the hip or knee replacement and/or other major  leg procedure takes place, will be accountable for the costs and quality of related care  from the time of the surgery through 90 days after hospital discharge—what is called an   “episode” of care. Depending on the hospital’s quality and cost performance during the  episode, the hospital will either  Earn a financial reward     OR,  beginning with the second performance year, be required to repay Medicare for a portion of the spending.  This payment structure gives hospitals an incentive to work with  physicians,  home health agencies,  skilled nursing facilities,  and other providers to make sure beneficiaries receive the coordinated care they need  The goal is reducing avoidable hospitalizations and complications.  Hospitals in the model will be provided access to additional tools – such as spending and utilization data and sharing of best practices -- to improve the effectiveness of care coordination. The model also gives providers additional flexibilities that are not otherwise available under Medicare so they can better manage the care of patients, including patients who are at home. By “bundling” payments for an episode of care, hospitals, physicians, and other providers have an incentive to work together to deliver more effective and efficient care. The CJR model is being tested in 67 geographic areas throughout the country, and nearly ALL hospitals in those geographic areas are required to participate. The CJR model supports Health & Human  Service’s  efforts to transform the health care system towards one focused on better quality care, smarter spending, and healthier people through care transformation and payment reform. WHAT  AREAS  ARE  PARTICIPATING  IN  THE  CCJR  MODEL Over 800 Hospitals across the US are participating, in 67 Geographical Locations. Areas were determined based on statistical population data, with populations of over 50K residents. Here are a Few selected Areas: Florida – Broward, Collier County, Gainsville, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River County, Lake County, Martin, Miami-Dade, Orange County, Osceola, Palm County, Pensicola area, Pinellas, Pasco, Santa Rosa County, Seminole County and St. Lucia County   California – Alemeda County, Contra Costa County, Los Angeles County, Marin County, Orange County, San Francisco County, San Mateo, Stanislaus County,    The rest are on the CMS.gov site. Search “CJR Model Geographical Areas,” To find out if a Hospital or County where you reside is participating. OR You can go to my website, www.callsamm.com  and I’ll put up a PDF of the Counties participating in the CJR Model program for you to request.     You can also download a copy of the Federal Register, which is a daily journal of the US Government.  The FINAL Rule for the CCJR Model is there in LONG Form https://goo.gl/hN44cm Federal Register/ Vol. 80, No. 226 / Tuesday, November 24, 2015 / Rules and Regulations  www.callsamm.com - has all of this information available for you.   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com            
April 15, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! It’s tax season! Today is April 15th and it’s the dreaded tax deadline day! It’s this time of year that people realize they need to make some changes to their Medicare plan. However, many people don’t realize that you can’t just make changes anytime you want to a Medicare Advantage Plan. There are specific times that you can make changes, and then you have to live with them until the opportunity arises to make changes again.   Here’s quick guide to making changes to your Medicare Advantage Plan:   You make your initial selection of your Medicare Advantage Plan when you enroll at 65. During annual enrollment from October 15 to Dec 7th. You can dis-enroll from January 1- Feb 14th, but you would have to go on to original Medicare because you cannot switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan at this time. You may have a “Special Election” that allows you to change your plan.   That Special Election for Medicare Advantage is what we want to focus on today.  There are certain circumstances that can qualify you to have this option.     Moving Your Residence:   If you move your home and your new location is not in your plan service area. You would need to notify Medicare as soon as possible, because you only have the rest of the current month and the following 2 full months from your move as the Special Election Period. If you move to a new address and your plan still is in your service area, but by moving you now have new options available to you that you didn’t previously have, then you would have a Special Election Period to change to one of those previously unavailable plans. Snowbirds that live in 2 areas have to determine which of those places is your primary residence. Where you vote and where you pay taxes are going to determine your primary residence. If you are out of the country for a period of time and now you are coming back to the US, then that could trigger a Special Election Period. If you are moving into a longer term care facility or rehab facility with round the clock skilled nursing care, you would have a Special Election Period when you move into the facility, while you are at the facility and when you move out of the facility.        Losing Coverage:   If you leave a job, or the union through retirement, etc. If you had an involuntary loss of drug coverage that was as good or better than Medicare drug coverage, that triggers an SEP. Or if you have had drug coverage through Medicare Cost Plan and left that job. If you lost coverage through the PACE Plan. If you had Medicaid and lost eligibility because of the income requirements.       You have a chance to get other coverage: If you had coverage from an employer and it was better than Medicare, you could go on it. If your employer had better plan coverage and you wanted to get on that plan. If you wanted to get into a PACE Plan   When there are plan changes with Medicare Contracts:   If a provider was sanctioned by CMS, then you would be able to choose another plan. If Medicare terminated a contract     Dual Member (Medicare and Medicaid)   You may get extra help with drug coverage May have been on a Medigap plan, changed to a Medicare Advantage Plan and then wanted to change back, you can change to a Medicare Supplement plan during your first year of coverage. SNIP Plan - for chronic conditions - may leave Medicare Advantage to go on the SNIP, or yu no longer qualify for a SNIP, so you can choose another plan.       If an error was made by a federal employee when you signed up for Medicare, and you can prove it, you may be granted an SEP.     *****You cannot get an SEP because your Doctor left the network********       If you have a Medicare Supplement - a Medigap plan, you can change plans whenever you want because there is no SEP.   Precautions:   If you have a chronic illness, cancer, cardiovascular disease, a plan does not have to take you after your first year of enrollment. You need to be careful and make sure you are going to be able to get coverage when you change plans. The other company might not take you due to pre-existing conditions and your old plan may not take you back. They can discriminate due to pre-existing conditions.   The price of these plans do change as you age, so keep that in mind.   Original Medicare:   Part A, B and D - you are on all the time, so you don’t make changes unless it is open enrollment or an SEP.      www.callsamm.com - has all of this information available for you.   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com  
April 8, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation! Today we wrap up our “trilogy” about Care Coordination by talking to Patient Advocate Karyn Rizzo!   Karyn wrote the book - Aging in America - What you need to know about Navigating our Healthcare System   Karyn’s book is available on Amazon. It covers everything from finding a primary care physician, choosing Medicare programs, and also some information for LGBT friendly providers, and safety tips, fall prevention etc. It just covers lots of real life issues that you face, including respite and how to take a break from care giving!   The book came out of the needs Karyn saw in her work everyday! She knew there was so much information she needed to cover, so she created a powerful resource in the book!   Fall prevention tips that Karyn provides in the book:   Eliminate rugs in the bathroom and other rooms of the house Check the types of shoes to make sure they don’t contribute to a fall Falls happen in the middle of the night going to bathroom, so install rails Is walker or cane easily accessible from the bed? Do you have motion sensor lighting? Medications can contribute to falls   Another great resource on fall prevention is mayoclinic,org   Advocacy for Patients is important today because of the following factors:   Healthcare providers don’t have the time to spend with you explaining things Insurance companies have complex coverage rules Healthcare treatment options are more complicated than ever         What a Patient Advocate Does:   Individuals that directly advocate for the patient Neutral parties hired by the family - not employed by hospital or insurance company Evaluate the care plan for the patient Advocate will put together a care plan that meets the patient's needs Works through the process of appealing insurance and hospital decisions They know the system, the lingo, and the rules, so they can use them to the patient’s advantage Knows what programs the patient is eligible for and how to get you on the right program for them Advocate can also help involve other specialty Physicians to evaluate the best treatment plan for the patient Advocates can also help navigate care options for Hospice and understand when it is appropriate and when other options are better for the patient. Hospice does have a Home Health division and it can be confusing between that and end of life Hospice care, so the patient advocate can make sure you are on the appropriate service. Healthcare regulations vary from state to state, so it’s important to get accurate help navigating the system.       Where do you find a Patient Advocate?   Sometimes called a Geriatric Care Manager, Social Service Agencies - There is a national website that provides a directory of caregivers:     CareManager.org CareGiver.org AgingGuidebook1.com - Karyn’s website has TONS of resources     What type of Licensing does a Patient Care Advocate have?   Every state calls the role something different, but there are programs that certify in each state.  Generally, they are nurses or social workers, or have equivalent experience. Licensing or certification is required for this role.     A Geriatric Care Manager is a position that you will have to pay for. Case managers that are paid by Medicare, the hospital or the insurance company will always represent those organization’s interest first, and yours afterward.   It is worth every penny to have someone in the trenches that is representing your best interests!     Online Tools when you are out of state from the patient:     ecarediary.com reunioncare.com   These websites create a circle of care that allows everyone in that circle to have access to all the information and take action on different aspects of the care for the patient from where ever they are in the world.         Got questions about Patient Advocacy?   Karyn could assist in a consultative role if you are not located in FL. She can direct you to resources in your area.     Karyn can be reached:   By Phone: 727-452-1300    By Email: info@agingguidebook1.com   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com    
April 1, 2016
Welcome Medicare Nation!  After last week’s show with Dr. Jeffrey Burns, I wanted to bring a guest on the show that could talk to us about her experience with the lack of care coordination with Medicare. Melissa’s Mother fell and broke her hip before Christmas. At only 67, ended up having surgery and being in the hospital and then in a skilled nursing facility. At home she had outpatient therapy.   Melissa shares the following about her Mother’s experience:   She went to stay with her Mother during this time - she lived 4 hours away She felt like she would just provide companionship and help her Mom get back on her feet She quickly realized she would have to be a patient advocate for her Mother She found out that the care for her Mom was good, but communication was terrible She tried to follow up on her Mom's care on a daily basis, but it was overwhelming Melissa wasn’t exactly sure of the medicine her Mother took on a daily basis Melissa didn’t have all the information available about the Doctors that her Mom sees Mom had an app on her cellphone that had all her medical info and also allowed her to call 911 Mom lived alone and fell late at night when she was in her garage 1 in 3 people 65 and over will fall and a hip fracture is the #1 injury from that fall She and her Mom text every night and every morning since her Mom lives alone Surgery on the hip was successful, but there were some blood clots to deal with Mom has a high tolerance for pain, but yet still seemed to be in a great deal of pain Melissa found out that there was some miscommunication between the nurses and her Mom regarding pain meds The hospital staff thought that Melissa's Mom had refused one of her pain medications Actually Mom only questioned it because she thought she couldn’t have the 2 meds together It wasn’t a refusal of medication, but her Mom just didn’t understand the issues and was confused Constantly ask questions. Write them down as you remember them. Ask the questions to every staff member at every shift.  Her Mom spent a week in the hospital before she went to rehab. It felt like they wanted to release her too soon. The clinical coordinator for the hospital didn’t have a lot of information on placement options in a city 45 minutes away They used the online site ratings through Medicare to find a skilled nursing facility Minimum requirement is 3 overnight stays in the hospital to qualify to go to skilled nursing facility medicare.gov has the resources to check ratings of skilled nursing facilities. Private Institution ratings are not available on www.medicare.gov Transportation to the skilled nursing facility, 45 minutes away, wasn’t handled by the hospital because the facility she was moving to was out of their "network." The family had to arrange transportation through a private medical transportation service, where Mom could transported in her wheelchair. In the skilled nursing facility, her Mom was there for 5 days before she even saw the nurse practitioner. The physical therapist never actually showed up due to scheduling conflicts. It’s important to find out the schedule that the Doctors will be keeping and seeing your family member and make sure you are there when they make the rounds. Melissa found out that her Mom got confused about what meds she was taking for what ailments, so she wasn’t a help to sort things out. Medicare allows Physicians to write prescriptions for home care therapy and it is provided at no cost to you. As long as a Dr. writes a prescription and the Physical Therapist is an approved Medicare provider and the patient can’t make it out to traditional therapy, it will be provided on most Medicare plans  free of charge. Melissa was shocked at how important it was for her to be involved in her Mother’s care and recovery. The outcome for Melissa’s Mom was good, but there were so many times along the way that could have gone terribly wrong, if Melissa wasn’t there to advocate for her Mom. If you are not physically able to be with a family member during a crisis, you may need to inquire about hiring a Patient Advocate.   The Official Medicare website is a starting place for finding skilled nursing facility ratings. Getting a patient advocate is a good idea if you aren’t prepared or able to assist your loved ones during a medical crisis.   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! I may answer one of your questions on the air! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com    
March 25, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! March is National Kidney Disease Awareness Month, so I’ve invited Dr. Jeffrey Berns on Medicare Nation. Dr. Berns is the president of the National Kidney Foundation and a professor of medicine and pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Associate Chief of the Renal Electrolyte and Hypertension Division. He is also the director of the Nephrology Fellowship Training Program and the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education. Dr. Berns is a busy and dedicated physician, and I’m grateful he is taking the time to inform us about kidney disease today! Give the listeners an idea of the prevalence of kidney disease in the US. One in three people are at risk for kidney disease, while one in nine already has some level of kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is measured in stage 3, 4, and 5. Stage 5 is the level at which dialysis or a transplant is required. Throughout your lifetime, it’s important to avoid exposure to things that can damage the kidneys, and that includes many prescription medications. Is it correct to say that kidney disease if most often a “silent” disease? It is similar to high blood pressure, which is also an important risk factor for kidney disease. Kidney disease is asymptomatic until permanent damage is done. Some tests can reveal the disease to a doctor, but patients don’t often have symptoms until it’s late in the game. What is the difference between a nephrologist and an urologist? A nephrologist is a physician with specialized training in medical diseases of the kidney, while a urologist is trained in surgical diseases of the kidney and urinary tract. What are signs and symptoms that would indicate late stage kidney disease?   Protein in the urine in large amounts Swelling of the feet, hands, legs, and face High blood pressure Fatigue Difficulty concentrating Sexual dysfunction Loss of appetite Metallic taste in the mouth   When should people see their doctor about kidney disease? We all have to be aware of the risk. Most older people are at increased risk, and minorities are at a higher risk. If kidney disease is in the family history, then the risk is higher. Diabetes increases the risk, but many cases of mild kidney disease can be managed quite well by a primary care physician. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to check blood levels for patients at yearly checkups? That would be the perfect time and opportunity for routinely-done tests. Your doctor can monitor you for any change over time, and you can ask your doctor if you have signs of chronic kidney disease. The National Kidney Foundation has partnered with MACC (Medicare Advantage Care Coordination) Task Force, aligned with 35 leading patient-care providers for patients with multiple disorders. Tell us more about MACC. Many patients with kidney disease also have other issues. MACC allows for their care to be more cohesive and patient-centered instead of fragmented care coordination. What can listeners do to improve care coordination? Make sure each of your doctors are communicating with each other. Most providers have electronic patient records that every doctor can see. Patients should remind each of their physicians to send their medical records to their primary physician. Your Primary physician is in charge of coordinating your care. Provide your Primary physician with a list of your other providers names and phone numbers. Carry a list of up-to-date medications to every doctor. How is Care Coordination utilized with different types of Medicare Plans ? Original Medicare provides the most freedom in seeking physicians with no referrals. Lack of communication between physicians causes fragmented care, with no care coordination. Medicare Advantage Plans include networks of physicians, with required referrals to see specialists. This allows continuity and greater communication in care coordination. Medicare Advantage Plans are continually trying to improve payment models and care coordination. Here are several steps individuals should follow to improve care coordination: Know your risk factors. Talk to your primary care doctor and have screening tests. Carry a list of medications with you. Keep a list of numbers and names of care providers. Make sure your plan has care coordination tools.   Learn more about Kidney Disease, find helpful resources and support on the National Kidney Foundation's website Visit www.kidney.org for more information. To learn more about the Medicare Advantage Care Coordination Task Force : Visit www.medicarechoices.org Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it! email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website! www.CallSamm.com
March 18, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! It’s March, which is a huge month for awareness. Last week’s show highlighted colon cancer awareness, this week we are discussing MS awareness, and next week’s topic is chronic kidney disease.  What is MS? MS is multiple sclerosis, which is a disabling disease of the central nervous system. It occurs when there is a disruption of the electrical circuit between the brain and the rest of the body. Nerves have a myelin sheath that covers and protects them; when the sheath is damaged and the electrical impulses are disrupted, then multiple sclerosis is the diagnosis. What are signs and symptoms of MS? Fatigue that interferes with your ability to function Numbness/tingling in face and extremities Muscle weakness Dizziness/vertigo Pain, significant and chronic Vision problems How is MS diagnosed? It’s a difficult disorder to diagnose, and can be found using blood tests and MRI’s. Doctors can test the electrical impulses in the brain, and they also pay attention to family history. Medicare covers these diagnostic tests to some degree, so CHECK YOUR PLAN! See your doctor if you experience any symptoms. Over 400,000 people in the US have been diagnosed, with more than 200 newly diagnosed cases each week! Most patients are between 20-50 years old. There is no cure for MS; all doctors can do is to try to slow the progression of the disease. For more information, visit www.nationalmssociety.org or call 1-800-344-4867 to contact the National MS Society.   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!   email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com    
March 12, 2016
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has suspended another Insurance Medicare provider's plan. CMS has suspended and sanctioned Ultimate Health Plan (UHP) Medicare Advantage Plan. Suspended Feb 26 and effective immediately. They are not allowed to market and sign up new enrollments for the UHP. They have determined that the conduct of UHP failed to provide services in compliance with CMS standards. According to the CMS document, "the failures were determined to be widespread and systemic." If you are on a UHP plan, you still have your benefits at this time. A Special Enrollment Period has not been granted by CMS at this time.You will need to contact Medicare at 800-633-4227 to request permission to select another plan due to the suspension. Document your conversation with the representative - their name, the date and time that you got the approval, etc. If you used a "captive" insurance agent, they only offer Medicare plans from the company they are contracted with.  I do not recommended that you contact a "captive" agent, because they will not advise you about other options with insurance carriers that may provide you with better options. If your family member is on Ultimate Health Plan and has a serious, chronic disease then you may want to look into other Medicare plans in the area in which they reside, to see if a better plan option is available. If you or a family member has Chronic Kidney Disease which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant, they may not be able to switch plans at this time. Medicare will look at each individual's situation on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions regarding the sanctions against Ultimate Health Plan, send me an email at: support@themedicarenation.com To speak with a Medicare broker or Medicare advisor in your area, simple Google “Medicare Advisor” - and your county or location. An example would be - Medicare Adviser Tampa, Florida   Politics and Medicare: This isn’t an endorsement for any candidate. This is just a summary of the candidates platform for Medicare and/or Healthcare On The Republican Side: Donald Trump: Does not want to make cuts to Medicare Favors health savings account Does not favor current Obamacare Favors taking away boundaries on state lines to encourage competition between states   Ted Cruz: Wants to save Medicare by gradually increasing the eligibility age from 65 to a higher age Wants to move to a “Premium Support System”, whatever that means   Marco Rubio: Wants to raise the eligibility age gradually Supports a voucher type program in Paul Ryan’s budget proposal   John Kasich: Hasn’t specifically talked about Medicare, only Healthcare Believes in the “value over volume” system of Medicare reimbursements Advocates healthcare savings accounts   On The Democratic Side: Hillary Clinton: Continue Obamacare and build on it Protect seniors from rising costs   Bernie Sanders: Advocates a single payer plan - administered by the government Comprehensive coverage for all Americans paid for by the government This will be paid by a 6.2% healthcare premium paid by employers 2.2% income based premium per household This would be a government run system No matter who you support, please make sure you exercise your right to vote!   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!     email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com        
March 4, 2016
Kevin Harrington, creator of the infomercial and the chairman of the As Seen On TV brand, is my guess today. Kevin has launched over 500 products to the tune of $4 billion! He is one of the original sharks on ABC’s Shark Tank. Kevin is an author who has helped me greatly with this podcast and my book, The Medicare Survival Guide. What would you suggest to people in our generation who might be affected if age requirements for Medicare benefits are changed in the near future due to political change in America? I would advise people to explore second income opportunities. If you’re working, then keep your job, but plant some seeds in case you need to work an extra 2-5 years than you originally planned. I suggest considering internet and mobile marketing opportunities. Anyone can do these jobs from home, connecting with people and selling products. Many entrepreneurs have started these small businesses and have become very successful for part-time or even full-time income. You have a new book coming out. Would you tell us about it? My book, Key Person of Influence, was written with Daniel Priestley. It’s an amazing program that takes you step-by-step through establishing yourself as a “guru.” For me, the turning point was becoming a KPI in As Seen On TV products. There are five essential skills, which include raising your profile, developing your pitch, and partnering with people. You can follow the system and become a guru in your industry.  Visit www.keypersonofinfluence.com! Visit www.kevinharrington.tv for links to my books and KPI information.   Changing gears just a bit, today is March 4th, which is Colon Cancer Awareness Day. Last week’s show was about this topic. Let’s all wear our blue today to promote colon cancer awareness! Judy, from Tampa, asked a question about the DNA Stool Test, so I want to give some detailed information. This test is relatively new, done at home, and less invasive than some others. It is covered by some Medicare plans, but you need to check on yours specifically. The test assesses your risk but does not replace the colonoscopy. The test is allowed every 3 years for those ages 50-85 who have no symptoms of colorectal disease, no Crohn’s, IBS, colitis, or polyps. Visit www.cca.org for more information. If you have questions about this show or others, please contact me. I love to hear from you and answer whatever questions you have! Thanks for listening!   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!   email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com    
February 27, 2016
Do you know how your Medicare benefits would be affected by the changes in government that would come from a new President? It's time to think about it and weigh in on what you think is best for you and for the country. Listen as Diane talks to real people who have an opinion.  Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!   email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com    
February 19, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! Today’s guest is Lee Silverstein, who is a colon cancer survivor. Lee is here to discuss the risks, prevalence, and treatments for this disease. Colorectal cancer is the most commonly diagnosed but also the most preventable through proper screening. The American Cancer Society estimates that 95,000 people will be newly diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. Over their lifetimes, 1 in 21 men and 1 in 23 women will be diagnosed! Colon cancer is clearly not “the old man’s disease” that many of us have been led to believe. Let’s hear Lee’s amazing story! Why has colon cancer become so widespread for people under age 40? “Over the last few years, the rates for diagnosis have remained steady, with a huge increase in the number of cases in people under age 40. It is scary, alarming, and unexplainable by doctors. I recently attended a conference on colon cancer and met a newly diagnosed 23-year-old. The common risk factors are being overweight, a lack of physical activity, a diet rich in red meat, heavy smoking and alcohol use. Keep in mind that you can have NONE of these risk factors and still be diagnosed with the disease, like what happened to me.”   Would you mind telling our Medicare Nation listeners your personal story? “Not at all—I would love to share my story. I had NO risk factors and had just turned 50, living a very health-conscious life. I exercised regularly and was eating smart. I had a colonoscopy in March 2011, and the doctor couldn’t get the scope where he needed it to go. I wasn’t alarmed, but received a call from the doctor two days later saying I had a tumor in my transverse colon. This colonoscopy saved my life!”   Would you share what your treatment was? “I had colon cancer and needed to have the tumor removed; the surgeon was confident that he could remove it all. My cancer was classified as Stage 2, which meant it was borderline as to whether there were benefits to undergoing chemotherapy. I got three opinions and determined that the benefits of chemo did NOT outweigh the risk. My follow-up exam included a CT scan and bloodwork, which showed a small spot on my liver. A biopsy was ordered and showed that my colon cancer had spread to my liver, even though it was a small spot and slow-growing. Surgery was recommended and chemotherapy. I went to Sloan-Kettering, which was the hospital I had been treated at as a child when I had a rare kidney cancer. The liver surgeon there was confident that I would be fine. Surgery was scheduled for January 2013 and I finished chemo treatments in August. In 2014, two small spots on my lungs were discovered. The doctor suspected that it was colon cancer that had metastasized to my lungs. He wanted to treat it with SBRT, a cyberknife-type targeted radiation procedure. In normal radiation, low doses are given over a wide area over a long period of time, with damage to the surrounding tissue. In this procedure, pinpointed high doses are given over a short time. I had the treatment with no side effects, and was even able to continue training for a race. The one spot disappeared and the other shrunk significantly. I’m not cancer-free, but I am stable. The goal of colon cancer treatment is to make it a chronic manageable disease.”   Can you tell Medicare Nation listeners about the Colon Cancer Alliance? “I found this organization when I was first diagnosed. They are the largest patient support non-profit organization for colon cancer, based in Washington, DC. They do research and provide online support.”   Medicare  provides several levels of preventive care and testing for colon cancer: Barium enema is allowed every 24 or 48 months, depending on the risk. Colonoscopy is allowed every 120 or 48 months, depending on the risk. Fecal blood tests are allowed every 12 months. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is allowed every 48 months for people over 50. Multitargeted DNA test is allowed every 3 years for people aged 50-85. This is a new test with many stipulations. Plans, coverage, and co-payments differ. Some procedures are free, but related surgical procedures (like to remove polyps) are NOT free. Tell our listeners about your podcast. “I started The Colon Cancer Podcast about a year ago. I interview survivors, caregivers, and medical professionals. We share stories of struggle, hope, and survival in the face of colorectal cancer.”   Tell us about the “Undie Run.” “These are 5K events sponsored by the Colon Cancer Alliance. We run around in our underwear! Events are held 2-3 times each month, in different cities around the country from February through October. The events are to raise funds and raise awareness of the disease.” Resources: www.ccalliance.org 877-422-2030 Find the Facebook group: Blue Hope Nation Special Bonus! Stay tuned to the entire show where Diane Daniels answers listener questions after the interview! Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!   email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
February 12, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! My guest today is Dr. Andrea Singer, who is a professor of  Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Singer is the Director of Women’s Primary Care and the Director of the Bone Densitometry program. She is a trustee and clinical director for the National Osteoporosis Foundation and a national lecturer on the subject. Dr. Singer has published extensively on many women’s issues and is active in the education of medical students and residents at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Singer is here to teach us about osteoporosis and how it affects our lives and health. Can you define osteoporosis for Medicare Nation listeners? “Yes—I value this opportunity and hope it can be a call to action for your listeners. Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones in which too much bone is lost or the body simply makes too little bone. The bones become weak and can break from minor falls or simple actions, even like bumping into furniture or sneezing!” How prevalent is osteoporosis in the US? “It’s a very common disease and I’ll give you some statistics: 50% of people age 50 or older (54 million of the 99 million) have either osteoporosis or low bone mass. The number jumps to 65% of people age 65 or older who are at risk for broken bones.” Do these numbers apply to both genders, or just to women? “They apply to both genders, even though it’s commonly thought of as a woman’s disease. Interestingly, men have a harder time recovering after a broken bone incident. Of the population age 50 or older, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men will break a bone due to osteoporosis in their remaining years.” What are the risk factors for osteoporosis? “Risk factors can be broken into two categories: non-modifiable and modifiable factors. Non-modifiable risk factors are those that you can’t control, like age, gender, family history, low body weight/frame, and previous bone fractures. Modifiable risk factors include lack of calcium/vitamin D, inactive lifestyle, smoking, and too much alcohol. Regarding previous fractures, those of the spine, hip, wrist, shoulder, and pelvis are classic osteoporosis fractures. Also, certain medications for other disorders can increase bone loss. If you have these risk factors, you should speak to your health care provider and ask about being evaluated for osteoporosis.” How is osteoporosis diagnosed? “Doctors will look at risk factors and do physical exams and lab tests, but the only real way to find osteoporosis is to do a bone density test. The lower the bone density, the greater the risk will be. The DXA scan is the bone density test, and is covered under the Welcome to Medicare package for women. Men are not covered for this test unless they fall into one of the following categories: on long-term steroid therapy, diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism, already on osteoporosis therapy, or has a vertebral abnormality or deformity found on an x-ray. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that men be screened at age 70, but the bone density test isn’t covered unless one of the four criteria is met.” Why are there not many people being screened for osteoporosis? “Osteoporosis is under diagnosed, under recognized, and under treated. It’s thought of as ‘my grandmother’s disease,’ and many people don’t recognize the risk factors. In addition, there are fewer health providers doing DXA scans. For many, they lack the realization that broken bones over age 50 is a strong indicator of osteoporosis. We need to raise awareness so that people who are candidates for osteoporosis will get tested. I hope that this discussion empowers people to take charge of their bone health, be proactive and advocate for yourself to your doctor.” How is the medical community treating osteoporosis? “People need to get adequate calcium and vitamin D, either through diet or supplements. Weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise can help stimulate the bones to remodel themselves and reduces the risk for falls. Fall prevention is a big part of treatment, and there are medications that can slow the bone breakdown or build new bone.” What are the options for osteoporosis medications? “Prescription pills can be taken daily, weekly, or monthly. These are covered under Medicare Part D. Injections can be given daily, once yearly, or 4x/year; these are covered under Medicare Part B or Part A, depending on where they are administered. The important point is that there is a medication to fit everyone who is at risk.” Where can Medicare Nation listeners go for more information and resources? Visit the website of the National Osteoporosis Foundation: www.nof.org. You can also find the Foundation on Twitter: @osteoporosisnof or on Facebook. There is also a new app available on iTunes or Google Play: Food4Bones. Check out these valuable resources for more information!   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!   email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
February 5, 2016
    Welcome Medicare Nation! I have some alerts for your today for some important changes to Medicare that are going on right now. I want you to know if you are affected, and what you need to do to make sure you have coverage. There are 2 main topics we need to discuss today:   Dis-Enrolling from Medicare Advantage Plan Cigna Suspension       Jan 1- Feb 14 - the period in which you can dis-enroll from your Medicare Advantage plan - if you don’t like it.   You cannot then switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan during this period You would only be able to go back to original Medicare when you disenroll You would have Part A and Part B This means you have deductibles and co-insurance There is no network - any provider contracted with Medicare will work for you Part B deductibles are either $104.90 or $121.80, depending on your situation Part A deductibles are $1288 for each new occurrence during the coverage period First 60 days you are covered by the deductible Day 61-90 you pay co-insurance of $322/day Day 91-100 you pay $644/day After that you have your 60 lifetime reserve days at $644/day also Part B has annual deductible of $166 for 2016 After the deductible you pay 20% of Medicare allowable cost for every procedure You can purchase a Medicare Supplement plan for which you would pay a monthly premium   Need Help? Call 1-800-Medicare if you have questions support@themedicarenation.com       Cigna Suspension:   The States - AL, AZ, FL, GA, NC, PA, SC, TN - are affected. They cannot enroll any new people for the plan. If you had it, you can stay on it. Or you can leave. This was a sanction from CMS for failing to comply with the Medicare Standards. They found that Cigna has a long standing history of non-compliance with CMS standards. The suspension is indefinite.   This sanction opens a “Special Enrollment Period”. This allows you to enroll in a different Medicare Plan.    Need Help? Contact Medicare - 1-800-633-4227 Medicare Website - www.medicare.gov/contacts support@themedicarenation.com   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!   email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com      
January 29, 2016
Welcome, Medicare Nation! My guest today is Dr. Ralph Sacco, who is the Executive Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Miami. He is also the Chief of Neurology Services at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Dr. Sacco has published extensively in the areas of stroke prevention, treatment, risk factors, human genetics, and stroke recurrence.  He is the recipient of numerous awards and has lectured at national and international meetings and conferences. He was the first neurologist to serve as president of the American Heart Association and serves as the president-elect of the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sacco is here to give us valuable information about strokes and stroke prevention. Join us! Tell us what you do at the University of Miami. “I’ve been the Chairman of Neurology since 2007. Our department has grown and is ranked 15th in NIH funding. We are leading the way in treating various neurological diseases.”   Tell our listeners what a stroke is and what the signs and symptoms are. “Stroke is a huge public health issue, especially as our population ages. About 795,000 strokes occur each year, which is one every 40 seconds! A stroke is like a heart attack in the brain. In a stroke, the brain is injured by bleeding or some other problem with blood vessels. The warning signs are often missed, but our current awareness campaign uses the acronym FAST to help people remember: F-Face-Drooping on one side  A-Arm-Weakness in one arm  S-Speech-Slurred speech  T-Time-Call 911 immediately! Other common symptoms are numbness and tingling on one side, severe sudden headache, and difficulty walking.”   Are there similarities in treating stroke and treating heart attacks? “Heart attacks usually allow a little more time for treatment than the brain does. With a stroke, you MUST get to a stroke center immediately. TIME IS BRAIN! A clotbuster drug can be used with success in blood vessel blockages up to 4.5 hours after the stroke begins.”   I’ve heard that people should chew on an aspirin if they feel they are having a heart attack. Is that the same advice for a stroke? “No, some strokes—about 15%--are bleeding strokes. Aspirin can make it worse. We advise calling 911 and getting to a treatment center. We can use drugs and catheters to remove clots up to six hours after stroke onset. This improves outcomes tremendously.”   What happens if signs and symptoms aren’t recognized and several hours go by? Is there irreversible brain damage? “Exactly—the longer we wait in opening that artery, the less chance we have of total recovery. Some recovery can happen between 6-18 hours, but it’s more difficult. Too many people ignore symptoms, and then it’s too late.”   One side effect of stroke can be paralysis on one side. What exactly causes that? “Most symptoms occur on one side of the body since one side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body. Everyone should know FAST and know how to activate the 911 call.”   Are there any foods we can eat to promote good blood vessel health? Is there a type of diet that helps? “Diet is a big factor of ideal cardiovascular health. The AHA estimates that less than 1% of people have ideal cardiovascular health. There are five key components: Fruits and Vegetables: 4.5 cups each day Fish: 2 servings each week Fiber-rich Whole Grain: 3 servings each day Lower your sodium intake: Sodium increases blood pressure, and high blood pressure is THE single leading modifiable risk factor for stroke. Most people get 3500 mg/day when the recommended limit is only 1500 mg/day! Limit sugar-sweetened beverages: This increases the risk for diabetes.”   What tips can you give about stroke prevention? “Remember, what’s good for heart health is good for brain health, too. The AHA lists seven key factors, called ‘Life’s Simple Seven’: Never smoking Body Mass Index Physical activity Diet Total cholesterol less than 200 Blood pressure not higher than 120/80 Fasting blood glucose less than 100” Doctor, for our seniors—or for anyone—is walking a daily exercise that you recommend? “Walking is a great exercise. Just 75-100 minutes of walking over a week’s time can really help in the battle for ideal health.”   Resources: Remember, part of Medicare benefits and preventive care includes nutrition counseling. You can talk to your primary care doctor for more information on how this service can help you. Visit www.medicare.gov for more information. www.strokeassociation.org www.heart.org The FAST app for your smartphone is now available!   Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!   email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com      
January 22, 2016
  Welcome Medicare Nation! Everyone keeps asking me about the changes to Medicare for 2016. There are quite a few changes, so today I will focus on the biggest ones you want to know about today.   How much will you pay for Medicare Part B (Outpatient Services)?   There is no COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) for 2016. The Hold Harmless Rule comes into play. If there is no COLA, then there can be no increase in Medicare Part B.    For everyone who is already on Medicare and receiving SS benefits, your Part B stays the same at $104.90. That’s 75% of the people that are on it.    If you are turning 65 in 2016 and you are on Medicare, your premium will increase. If you delayed taking SS benefits because you continued working, your premium will increase. If you are on Medicare and Medicaid, your premium will go up. You may qualify for the state reimbursement for Medicaid costs. New premiums will be $121.80. Recommendations were that Medicare Part B premiums should be up around $159, but Congress limited the increase to $121.80. In actuality, Congress gave you a loan for the difference between $121.80 and $159, and charged you a fee for the loan until it can be repaid.   Over $65 Billion of Medicare dollars is lost to fraud. Instead of worrying about the fraud, your politicians gave you a loan! Oy Vey!   If you make over $85K in income, your premium will increase to a different amount, which you can reference on the website.     Medicare Part D (Drugs) - Medicare Advantage Plan majority will have drug coverage included already.   For 2016, know your deductible situation (max $360). Some have them and you will have to pay out first, and others will only be triggered with a brand name drug.     The Donut Hole - You don’t want to be in this category. $3310 is the maximum expense for this category. When you add up the amount of money you have paid and the plan has paid, and it exceeds $3310 and now you are in the donut hole.    Now the government wants you to start paying more for your coverage. The new threshold is $4850 for this level. You will now pay 45% of the cost of the brand name drug and you will pay 58% for a generic drug. What you pay out of pocket plus a 50% manufacturer discount. Once you meet $4850, you now fall into the catastrophic coverage phase.   Catastrophic Phase - Last through the end of the calendar year. You will pay 5% of the cost of the drug or $7.40, whichever is higher. For generics you pay 5% of the cost of the drug or $2.95, whichever is higher.   The slate gets wiped clean as of Jan. 1 and your classification starts all over again.     Medicare Payout for Providers:   For 2016, payments will be reduced by 30%   They are looking at tying procedures together when there are multiple issues stemming from the procedure. Payment will be reduced when you are re-admitted to the hospital within a certain timeframe.   When a patient contracts an infection during a hospital stay, the payments will also be reduced.   They are looking at “Value over Volume”.       If you have been on Medicare for a year, you can have an annual Wellness medicare checkup. This isn’t your annual physical, but a Wellness Medicare Exam.     From now thru Feb. 14, you can drop your Medicate Advantage Plan and go back to original Medicare and have coverage for Part A and Part B. Then you would need to purchase Part D separately.     No premium for Part A (overnight stays in any type of facility) $1288 is the amount you pay for 60 days. Day 61-90, you pay an additional $322/day and after day 90, you pay $644/day. Every person has 60 lifetime reserve days for one time use only. In skilled nursing 0-20, 21-100 (max) you pay $161/day. Part B has a one time deductible of $166, and then 20% of Medicare allowable cost. Find out your co-insurance payment prior to the appointment.   Stand Alone Prescription Drugs Plans:   All have premiums Check for the deductibles too You can apply for a supplement for Medicare to help cover the cost of Original Medicare     Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!   email me: support@themedicarenation.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com    
January 15, 2016
Welcome! My guest today is Dr. Vincent Bufalino from Illinois. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease. He is the Senior Vice President of the Advocate Heart Institute and the Senior Medical Director of Cardiology of Advanced Medical Group (AMG). AMG is ranked as one of the top five health systems in the US and has 140 physicians in cardiology practice! Let’s hear more from Dr. Bufalino! Tell us what you do at AMG. “We care for patients in 12 hospitals in the Chicago area. Last year, over 20,000 cardiac procedures were performed at AMG. We provide expert medical care to those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Our surgical program provides the latest in technology to provide the highest level of quality health care.”   Do you treat patients from all around the US? “We service most of northern Illinois and have outreach clinics even in the rural communities. Most of our patients are from this area, but some continue to access our care for follow-ups, even after they’ve moved to other states.”   What is meant by the term “heart disease”? “We look at risk factors, which are not managed as well as they should be. High cholesterol is very common, and we have many tools to treat it although not everyone needs to be on medications. Some people can be treated with diet and exercise, but those over age 35-40 with family risk factors should be evaluated. Those that are experiencing symptoms should be evaluated. The death rate from heart attacks has decreased from about 20% a few decades ago to just 2% today. Unfortunately, some patients develop heart failure and require advanced care, but there are still many treatment options available.”   What are some common signs and symptoms of heart attacks? “Exertion-related symptoms are common, like discomfort, pressure, tightness, and burning. The two most common symptoms are chest discomfort and shortness of breath. You should also pay attention to rapid heartbeat and fluttering in the chest. Acid indigestion CAN be a symptom, especially if it doesn’t subside when you take an antacid.”   What is a stroke? “Essentially, a stroke is damage to the brain, usually from a blood clot or a ruptured blood vessel. Sometimes a “warning” occurs, known as a TIA (transient ischemic attack). It is accompanied by numbness/weakness on one side, vision loss, and slurred speech. Time is critical since permanent damage can be done. Within the first 60-90 minutes, we can intervene and dissolve the clot.”   What are some procedures that Medicare allows to detect heart disease? “For those over age 65, an ultrasound is allowed to assess the risk of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA), which is the ballooning of the main artery going down into the abdomen. The ultrasound detects any enlargement of the aorta. Those with a family history of aneurysm, men with high blood pressure, and smokers have an increased risk.”   Can you explain the Cardiac Disease Screening under Medicare? “There is a ‘Welcome to Medicare’ physical exam that is allowed during the 12-month period after you turn 65. There are also nutritional therapy services available, and most people don’t even know about them or take advantage of them. The purpose is to try to give people tips that can make a difference and help them live healthier lifestyles.”   How is salt tied to heart disease? “Salt is tied to high blood pressure, and this isn’t just from the salt shaker! Sodium is packed into processed foods, so it’s important to read labels.”   You were president of the American Heart Association in Illinois. How can the AHA help people? “The AHA supports the work we do at AMG with patient education and research. Their website offers resources and even cookbooks. Find them at www.heart.org.”    Do you have any tips that people can follow RIGHT NOW to prevent heart disease? “The two most important things are to eat better and exercise more.” Resources: www.heart.org www.advocatehealthcare.com www.meetup.com  (Find walking groups all around the country.)   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com    
January 8, 2016
Welcome! Today’s guest is Brad Hubbard of National Flood Experts. He has built a company and a career dedicated to helping people save huge amounts of money! Join us for more! What is your background that led you to start National Flood Experts?  “I worked for 12 years as a civil engineer, working with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) on flood zone issues. When I grew tired of working as an engineer, I began working as an insurance agent specializing in flood issues. I noticed how many homeowners were required to carry flood insurance even though there was almost no risk for flood. I found out FEMA has a process to take these homes out of the flood zone and save the homeowner from paying for flood insurance. Before long, I helped 20-30 clients and then created NFE to help millions of Americans who shouldn’t be paying for flood insurance.”   Why would someone be required to have flood insurance? “There are two requirements to have flood insurance: having a mortgage and living in a flood zone, as determined by FEMA. Being near water doesn’t necessarily mean you MUST have flood insurance, and both residential and commercial properties are subject to these requirements.”   How are flood insurance rates determined? “There are different factors that vary according to different agents. The rates are not standardized but are affected by how high the home is built and how high the speculated flood may be.”   Is FEMA in charge of determining flood zones? “Yes. FEMA created the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program, which oversees all federal flood insurance in conjunction with local municipalities. They categorize flood zones and update maps every 10-15 years. NFE actually benefits FEMA by helping make their maps more accurate.”   So, as homeowners, is it accurate to say that we can actually CHALLENGE FEMA’s flood zone designation? “Yes. Challenge is exactly the right word for what we can do. Most people don’t even know that this is possible, because we assume when the government says something, then that’s the end of it.”   Can you give us an example of how NFE can help a client? “Yes. I have a client who lives in a 55+ neighborhood and was paying $1800/year for flood insurance. Our company did an Elevation Certificate and determined that we could help her. We charged her $500 for our services, submitted our report to FEMA, and they took her out of the flood zone within three days. She talked with her mortgage lender and her insurance agent and received a $900 refund from her escrow account and $1800 back from her previous year’s flood insurance. When you are taken out of a flood zone, then you’re entitled to a refund of every penny that you paid in flood insurance from the previous year! In addition to the $2700 refund, her mortgage payment dropped by $200/monthly—all of this was accomplished in just a few days’ time!”   How do homeowners get an Elevation Certificate? “It’s part of the package with a survey and appraisal when you purchase a home or purchase flood insurance. Only about 20% of people don’t have one. Our crew can complete an Elevation Certificate for $150-500. If your home has been built or improved upon in the last 20-30 years, then an Elevation Certificate probably exists. Every municipality is required to keep these as public record in order to have FEMA participation.”   Does your service fee vary according to whether a home is in a low-value area or a high-dollar area? “No, our services are based on a flat rate no matter where you live.”   What can NFE do for Medicare recipients? “In all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and anywhere that FEMA regulates, NFE has a way to make it easy. There is a 24-hour recorded message line: 888-289-3134. You can access our free consumer’s guide to purchasing flood insurance. Our services are 100% guaranteed, with a total refund if we can’t help them, so there is NO RISK! If you mention this podcast when you call, then you will receive a $50 discount.”   Tell us what you can do to help our listeners. “For some, we can get you out of a flood zone designation and eliminate your need for flood insurance. For others, we can reduce your insurance premium in several different ways in reviewing your property and options.”   Can you give us a summary of what your company does when a client calls? “When you call and leave a message, all we need is your name and address to begin our research. We will be in touch with you within 24 hours and give our recommendations regarding how we can help. There is no payment required until a determination is made that we can help. The initial review is free and the only charge happens when we KNOW that we can help (and don’t forget the MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE!)”   How does your fee differ from residential and commercial clients? “The pricing is a little different, based on how much we can save a commercial client in a year, but the process and the guarantee are the same!”   What if a residential homeowner has had flooding? Can they still contact you? “Yes and no. If you’ve had a flood claim, then FEMA is not going to remove you from the flood zone, but there still are things you can do to reduce your premium. Keep in mind that FEMA defines a “flood” as rising water over more than two acres and where two or more properties are affected. Flooding does NOT include broken pipes or a water main break. Your normal homeowners’ insurance covers those water damage issues.   If you are paying for flood insurance, you should give NFE a call at 888-289-3134 or visit their website: www.nationalfloodexperts.com. Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com        
December 25, 2015
Welcome! My guest today is Peter Fitzgerald, who is the Executive Vice President for Policy and Strategy for the National PACE Association (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.) The PACE program helps guide the association policy and advocacy efforts at the federal and state levels. The program is always looking to improve services for those needing long-term care. What is the PACE program and its history? PACE provides all the programs that the elderly need, from health care services to long-term care, all designed to keep seniors living in a community-based setting at home. It began as a pilot program in Chinatown in San Francisco, because the Chinese culture is based strongly on keeping elders at home with their families and out of nursing homes. Alternatives were explored to keep them living in the community with some assistance. The program began with a Daycenter that provided meals and healthcare and remedied the social isolation that some seniors feel. Over time, more services were added to the model. Now, people enroll in the program, which is sponsored by local healthcare provider organizations. PACE meets all the healthcare needs of the seniors except housing, but provides transportation, day centers, therapy, rehabilitation, meals, doctor visits, and home care services. The overall goal of the program is to keep seniors living in the community rather than in nursing homes. Is it true that the PACE program is its own network of doctors and facilities combined into one? Yes, it’s designed to be a complete system. PACE programs employ their own doctors, nurses, practitioners, home health aides, home health nurses, and transportation services. The program secures contracts with hospitals for Medicare services and other needs.  Which Medicare coverage will pay for the PACE program? Upon enrollment, the PACE program becomes the source of all Medicare benefits and replaces traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plans. Medicare actually pays the PACE program monthly for patient care, so in reality, it’s like another Medicare Advantage Plan. Who is eligible for PACE? Enrollees must be 55 or older and live within a PACE service area, which is usually about a 45 minute driving radius. The program becomes all-encompassing health care, so patients must have access to a PACE center within a reasonable distance. The program is designed for those with complex and chronic needs. However, if someone has to enter a nursing home during their care, then the program does continue for them, even though they were not able to remain at home. Almost one-half of PACE enrollees have some sort of dementia diagnosis, so do you think those numbers will continue to increase? The dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnoses are a potential area of growth for PACE. The president recently signed into law the creation of some new PACE programs that allow enrollment for some people under age 55. Early intervention may help people improve and maintain their quality of life. What would the average cost be for a private pay patient under the PACE program? It would vary greatly from state to state, but the average would probably be around $3000/month with no co-pay or deductible. The rate is determined by the state, but remember that long-term care is included in the program, AND you get to stay in your home with your loved ones. Is PACE considered “for profit” or “not for profit”? The program originally began as “not for profit,” but has since allowed “for profit” sponsorships. There is currently only one “for profit” PACE program operating in PA, but these will become more widely available in the future. How many PACE programs are there? In 32 states, there are 116 PACE organizations currently serving 220 communities. You can find out more about the program and its availability in your local area by visiting www.pace4u.org or www.npaonline.org. You can also call 703-535-1565, find them on Facebook, or on Twitter @TweetNPA. Can individuals volunteer or donate within the PACE program? YES! There are many ways to volunteer and donations are always accepted. Check with your local organization for further information.   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
December 19, 2015
Welcome! I’m honored to introduce you to my guest today, Dr. Regina Benjamin, who is the former U.S. Surgeon General under President Obama.  There has been some confusion about the position of US Surgeon General, so can you describe the position and tell us what it entails? “Most people associate the US Surgeon General with the warnings on tobacco products about the dangers. That’s not all we do, though. We are responsible to communicate the best health science that we have. The Surgeon General is also the leader of US Public Health Services. We are considered part of the military. I like to say we carry needles, and not guns.” Are you appointed or elected to the position? “The US Surgeon General is nominated by the president, and then confirmed by the Senate. The Senate also assigns the position for a 1-4 year term. I was fortunate to be confirmed unanimously without a hearing.” Can you explain the focus of your mission today? “Part of the division of Science and Communication is to get the word out about health information and raise awareness. I’m partnering with Pfizer to get the word out about pneumococcal pneumonia, especially to older Americans, who are at a greater risk.” Most people probably don’t understand that vaccinations are free under Medicare. Can you explain? “Vaccinations are included in preventive services, and so they are free and without a co-payment, even for those with private insurance. These vaccines are available at doctors’ offices, clinics, health centers, and drugstores. The goal is to make them easy and accessible.” Is there a season in which pneumococcal pneumonia is more prevalent than others? “Not really—this disease is not weather-related. It is more related to the immune system of the patient. For some reason, African-Americans seem to be at a higher risk.” Can an older person get more than one vaccination at a time, like a flu shot AND the pneumococcal pneumonia shot? “It varies according to the person, so it’s important to talk to your doctor. In general, the vaccinations probably can be given together if there aren’t other special conditions.” What are the signs and symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia? “Anybody can get this disease, even a very healthy person. Those over age 65 are at a greater risk. The symptoms include a sudden onset of high fever, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. The average hospital stay is about five days and it can even cause death. Prevention is the key!” For pneumococcal pneumonia, is there a live strain of the bacteria in the vaccination, or is it a synthetic form? “Most vaccinations today have an ‘attenuated’ form, which means they are live but not active. The goal is for your immune system to ‘think’ you have had the disease when you haven’t, so the antibodies are produced. There are different types and different brands of the vaccine. Your doctor can help decide which form of the vaccine is best for you.” What are the best ways to keep from getting this disease? “Handwashing is the best preventive. You should also exercise, eat well, and live a healthy lifestyle. Pneumococcal pneumonia is spread by coughing and sneezing, or by touching surfaces where someone has coughed or sneezed. We can’t avoid people completely, so that is why the vaccine is so important.” Dr. Benjamin, what was the most wonderful thing about your job as US Surgeon General? “My favorite thing was getting to meet people in their communities and talk about the prevention of disease and the promotion of good health.”  Resources: www.knowpneumonia.com Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
December 11, 2015
Welcome! My guest today is Jim Jenson, who is the owner of “Fit for Life,” an adaptive fitness business. He is a certified fitness instructor and the host of the podcast, “The Essential Boomer.” Jim is here to talk about the specific fitness needs for baby boomers. Tell us about “Fit for Life” and what adaptive fitness is.  I have been in business for about ten years, located 20 miles south of San Francisco. I work with special fitness issues like MS, wheelchair-bound clients, and balance issues. I usually travel in a 10-15 mile radius to visit clients in their homes to work with them. I love helping people improve their lifestyle and their health!   How are you certified to do what you do? I’m certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), with both basic and advanced certifications. Special training is essential to prevent injuries, so Baby Boomers need to make sure to work with someone trained in disabilities and chronic issues.   At this time of year, there are many offerings of “free memberships” in fitness programs. How can people get the most from this benefit? Always work with a trainer, and be sure they are certified for your needs and goals. You really need one-on-one training for success and injury prevention. Don’t be afraid to ask about their certification, and check with your primary doctor about beginning a fitness program.   What kinds of exercises do you teach those with special challenges? I am a big fan of resistance bands and I take them everywhere! They allow core exercises even while sitting and help with balance and stability. Recumbent bikes are great for cardio workouts. I even use foam swords for “sword fights” with wheelchair-bound clients! Check out my website for Predator Bands and a video about a total body workout with bands!   What are the primary causes of balance problems? De-conditioning is the biggest problem. This is due to the lack of use of the core muscles. Other causes include medication interaction, chronic conditions, and vision/hearing changes. Remember, a previous fall increases your chances for another fall!   What exercises can be done at home to reduce the risk of a fall? Strengthen your core muscles and practice your balance. Don’t be ashamed to use a cane or a walker for extra safety. You can even work with a certified trainer to improve your gait.   What about exercises to strengthen the core? There are many “mat work” exercises, and yoga that is geared toward seniors can increase core strength and flexibility. One of my very favorite resources is The Core Program: 15 Minutes a Day That Can Change Your Life, by Peggy Brill.   What other things can boomers do to maintain active lifestyles? For longevity, cardiovascular exercise is preferred. It’s GOOD to huff and puff and then let your body recover. For quality of life, resistance exercises (like bands) are a great option. Dancing is also wonderful for balance, stability, cardiovascular exercise, and FUN!    Do you take any insurance in your fitness business? No, there is no insurance that pays for personal trainers except on the rare occasion when it may be included in a workman’s comp claim.   Tell us about your podcast, The Essential Boomer. It is the Baby Boomer’s Survival Guide! It’s my passion and what feeds my soul. I started it in May, and it has grown. I interview knowledgeable guests to give information to Baby Boomers. The podcast is connected to a private Facebook group by the same name.   Resources: The Core Program: 15 Minutes a Day That Can Change Your Life by Peggy Brill www.essentialboomer.guide  (Jim’s website) jim@essentialboomer.guide (Jim’s email) 650-704-0377 (Jim’s phone number) www.nasm.org  or 800-460-6276 (Contact NASM for certified trainers in your area.) Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com    
December 5, 2015
It's annual enrollment time and I know that the prescription drug coverage options can be confusing.  So, today I wanted to try to clarify what you need to look for in the best drug coverage plan for you. Original Medicare requires a stand alone plan for prescription drugs. These plans are a pain, and that’s exactly why this episode exists.   Do not be loyal to any particular drug plan.  You want the plan with the least out of pocket expense, and the ones that carry your drugs. You will pay a monthly premium, either a lower ($16-18 to $30-35) premium and then a higher deductible.  Or you can have a high premium (up to $180 monthly) and then almost no deductible. 3.  Make sure your particular drugs are on the plan before you commit to any plan.  This list is always changing and you have to double check it from year to year.   If you have several drugs, you could easily meet your deductible in the first month of the new year. It is important to do the math and see what your overall out of pocket expenses are going to be. Don’t assume that the generic drugs are always cheaper.  Check your plan!   The Donut Hole: Jan 1 you have $3310 to use towards prescriptions.  This is a combination of copays and what the plan pays.  Once you reach $3310 total, then everything else is in the donut hole. So now, your cost of prescriptions will change.  Once you reach $4850, you get out of the donut hole.  After $4850, then you are now in the catastrophic phase of the plan.  So you either pay the higher of 5% of the total price or the designated price for that prescription. In 2020, the donut hole is eliminated, and then everyone will pay a flat 25% of the cost of the drug. Silver Scripts - owned by CVS - it has a pretty good premium ($25.60 monthly in FL) and then you have no deductible.  You just have to make sure your drugs are on the plane. silverscripts.com will tell you what the tiers are for the drugs and the monthly costs.     Always look at plans year to year and make sure you get the best plan for you.   If you have questions, you can reach out to me:   Call 855-855-7266 Twitter.com/medicarenation themedicarenation.com facebook.com/medicarenation You always have an alternative as well, if none of this fits you.  If you decide you made a mistake, you still can drop your plan in January and go back to Original Medicare and a stand alone plan.  Listen to the episode and Diane will tell you what your options are.    Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com    
December 5, 2015
It’s that time of year!  You have 5 days left to choose your Medicare plan for the coming year.   Did you choose the right plan?   If you are confused, this is the episode for you!  I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to know to make the right choice.     3 Choices: Original Medicare - Part A and Part B Medicare Advantage Medigap to Original Medicare   Medicare for 62 and older and it was never designed to be free,   Part A - Stay overnight Part B - (Outpatient) Everything where you don’t stay overnight annual deductibles copayments   Medicare Advantage - networks, HMO and PPO healthcare providers.   HMO is smaller and PPO’s are larger and carry Medicare products in different states. Supplement is a private insurance (F Plan) and it is expensive, but the coverage is comprehensive.   All will have the same basics of Original Medicare Plan. Most of them include prescription drug coverage with co-pays Some have premiums and some do not - you just have to research.  I don’t recommend plans with a monthly premium. Don’t get a plan with a deductible Max out of pocket is $6400 for the year for Medicare - so look for the lower maximum out of pocket expenses.  It is for the same coverage. Don’t fall for the plans that give you a discount on over the counter items.  It isn’t worth it. No monthly premium No drug deductible Lowest maximum out of pocket expenses Make sure your doctors are on the plan that you are choosing   There is no binding agreement that keeps Doctors in the network, so they may come and go.   If you have the plan with no monthly premium, no drug deductible and a low maximum deductible with $3000 or so, then that is a great plan!   If you are looking for supplemental plans, you need to realize that the benefits are standardized.  The F Plan is the most comprehensive and it will go away in 2019.  They are also eliminating the C Plan in 2019 as well.  The C Plan just doesn’t cover excessive charges.  The G Plan means you are responsible for your Part B premium and also for excessive charges.   Compare the prices for the F Plan under each insurance agency, because they will be different and then you need to know what the financial rating of that company is.  AAA+ is the best rating and F is the worst.     You can find more information and keep in touch with us in the following places.   855-855-7266 - Call us and we will help you!   www.themedicarenation.com   facebook.com/medicarenation   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
November 27, 2015
Welcome! My guest today is Dr. Jeffrey Berns, who is the president of the National Kidney Foundation. He is a professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Burns is the Associate Chief of the Renal, Electrolyte, and Hypertension Division and the Director of the Nephrology Fellowship Training Program and the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education. Dr. Berns addresses the following aspects of kidney disease and its risks: What is the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), its mission, and your role? The central office is in NY, but there are offices around the country, each manned by a wonderful staff. Dr. Berns’ role is to talk about the NKF, kidney disease and be a spokesperson and advisor to the board. The mission of the NKF is to help those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) identify the diseases. About 80% of kidney function can actually be lost to CKD with no noticeable symptoms! The NKF also focuses on education about CKD, risk factors, and causes, and research to identify treatments and cures. What are the most common risk factors for CKD? One out of three adults is at risk, and up to 10% may already have CKD but be unaware of it. The most common causes are high blood pressure and diabetes; these diseases cause over 60% of all CKD that requires dialysis or transplant. Family history is a risk factor, as well as minority ethnicity and being over age 60. The ethnicity risk is tied to some socioeconomic factors and some genetic markers that seem to predispose African-Americans to CKD. Kidney disease is an important disease and is under-recognized in the US. For patients with hypertension or diabetes, what tests can be done to screen for kidney disease? The most common tests are a blood test called a Serum Creatinine Level to test kidney function and a urine test to detect protein in the urine. Simply assessing urine output is not an accurate indicator. Are urinary tract infections (UTI’s) a determinant in CKD? These infections are not really a risk factor, but recurrent kidney stones and kidney infections may be precursors to CKD. How would someone know if they have CKD? Blood and urine tests are the only way to detect the disease until symptoms advance to a very serious stage. Discolored urine and swelling of the feet and ankles may be symptoms. The blood and urine tests are most commonly done at the ER and doctors’ offices in conjunction with other exams and other issues. What kinds of resources are available through the NKF? Visit their website at www.kidney.org. You will find information there about the prevention of kidney disease as well as information about kidney function, tests, organ donation, and transplantation. NKF Cares is the patient information Helpline, available in English and Spanish. The website also includes a Peer Support program for patients, information about insurance, and My Food Coach, which has nutritional guidelines. How does Medicare coverage factor into CKD? Those over age 65 are already at higher risk for kidney disease, and Medicare is the primary payer for those patients. A co-pay of 20% is required unless you have co-insurance, and most services are covered under Medicare Part B. For people under 65, coverage is a little trickier. After 30 months, Medicare becomes the primary provider for those on dialysis, but the rules vary according to the type of dialysis that people require. Medicare coverage kicks in immediately for transplant patients, but only lasts three years. The NKF is working to change those coverage limits. For kidney donors, are exact matches required? Kidneys are matched with compatible blood types. An identical sibling is an ideal match, but any living donor is preferred over a deceased donor. Family members, friends and co-workers can be donors. How good is the function of only one kidney if you’ve become a donor? Potential donors are extensively screened to assure a very low risk for future kidney disease. There are small risks, as with any surgical procedure, but the remaining kidney will adapt and actually increase its function after the removal of one kidney. What is the name of a kidney specialist? A kidney specialist is called a “nephrologist,” not to be confused with a urologist, who is a surgeon specializing in the urinary tract. A nephrologist has studied internal medicine and chosen to specialize in kidney diseases and treatments. Visit the NKF website for more information about becoming a donor or a volunteer. You may also call 1-855-NKF-CARES. Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
November 19, 2015
Welcome! My guest today is Rosemary Gibson, who is an author and renowned speaker and presenter on the subject of healthcare. Rosemary is currently the senior advisor at the Hastings Center, and the founding editor of Less is More narratives in JAMA internal medicine. In 2014, she was the recipient of the highest honor from the American Medical Writers Association in the field of medical communication. Her books include Medicare Meltdown: How Wall Street and Washington and Ruining Medicare and How to Fix it, The Battle over Healthcare, The Treatment Trap, and Wall of Silence. Tell us what the Hastings Center is and what you do there. The Hastings Center is a healthcare think tank that looks at ethical issues from the perspective of public interest. It’s a non-partisan, non-profit organization with whom I’m proud to be affiliated. We seek to inform the public on critical healthcare issues of the day. I do this work as a public service because we have the right to know!   Where are healthcare costs headed for beneficiaries? Costs keep going up! The reason is that hospitals, doctors, and medical device companies can keep billing for whatever they want and as often as they want. There is no one to stop it! Their motto is “Bill, Baby, Bill!” Medicare is taking a larger and larger share of social security tax. Millions are facing a 50% increase in their Medicare Part B premium. Your Medicare card is the credit card for those doctors, hospitals, and medical device companies and you can’t do anything about it! When Medicare started, there were no healthcare companies on the Fortune 100 list, but now there are 15! The system is full of corruption that is off the charts!   What is the answer? How can we stop this? You have to take charge of your health and not trust it to anyone else! Healthcare is something they want to SELL to all of us, and we cannot assume that they want the best for us. Rosemary calls our condition “The Marinated Mind,” because we’ve been marinated to believe that any procedure recommended by a doctor is ok. Baby boomers have been brainwashed to NEVER question what the doctor says. Rosemary teaches you her “exit strategy,” where you can respectfully decline a procedure, ask for more time to think about it, and discuss it with the doctor at a later date. Listen in for details! The truth has been hidden from us, but we need to become empowered to make our own decisions! Find Rosemary Gibson’s books at www.rosemarygibson.org or www.amazon.com.  Medicare Nation listeners, you know I’m always reminding you that we each play a part in reducing Medicare fraud. We all have to do our part. Always examine your monthly summary statement for anything that looks suspicious. One more tip: It’s Medicare enrollment time, so STAY AWAY from the high-pressure seminars! Read the material and visit www.medicare.gov or www.samm.com for more information. Do your research or find the right advisor who has your best interests in mind. Thanks for listening!   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
November 12, 2015
Welcome! My guests today are Catherine McMahon and Anna Howard. Catherine provides in-depth analysis for legislative and regulatory priorities for all levels of government and develops public policy principles for cancer prevention. Anna helps develop public policy principles in issues related to healthcare coverage for individuals with cancer. She is also the consumer representative for the National Association for Insurance Commissioners. Catherine and Anna are here to help listeners understand the resources available for those diagnosed with cancer and for those whose loved ones have been diagnosed. People over 65 account for 65% of all new malignancies and about 70% of cancer deaths in the US. Listening to this podcast will help you understand how to use Medicare benefits in the best ways to prevent cancer. What is the Cancer Action Network, and what does it do? The CAN is the nonprofit, advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society that supports legislative solutions to defeat cancer. One purpose is to give patients and their families a voice in government. There is a federal lobbying team in Washington, DC and staff in every state working on the local level. The CAN works to prevent cancer and to help patients find access to care. (The complete abbreviation is ACSCAN.) Why are preventive services so important? Screening tests, counseling, and preventive medications work together to prevent illness before symptoms occur. 50% of cancers can be prevented with these services, including tobacco cessation screening, obesity screenings, and cancer screenings to detect early stage cancer. The ACS has made cancer prevention a top priority. What is the function of the US Preventive Services Task Force? The USPSTF is an independent, voluntary panel of national experts in preventive medicine. Their clinical recommendations will become the appropriate insurance coverage for preventive services. What preventive services does Medicare cover for cancer screenings? The USPSTF updates their recommendations periodically, but currently, an initial physical exam and annual physical exams are covered.  Some of the screenings are a colorectal exam, lung cancer screening, breast and cervical cancer screening. To be eligible for the lung cancer screening, a patient must by 55-77 years old and be either currently smoking or have quit smoking in the last 15 years.  They must have a “smoking history” such as a pack a day and have a written order from their doctor for the screening. A colonoscopy is another screening that is covered, but the problem occurs if the doctor removes polyps during the exam because that qualifies as surgery and will make the patient subject to out of pocket costs. What legislation is currently being introduced to Congress? The ACSCAN is pushing for new laws to include removal of polyps in screening exams instead of calling it “surgery.”  The bill is called “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act and is HR 1220 in the House and S624 in the Senate. Listeners are encouraged to call their members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor and pass this legislation ASAP! What choices are available to Medicare beneficiaries? Patients can choose Traditional Medicare, Parts A, B, or D, or they can choose a Private Plan Option called Medicare Advantage. Over 30% of Medicare users choose an Advantage plan. What should you ask your doctor about screenings? First of all, take advantage of the annual wellness exam, but talk to your doctor about what’s going on with your heath and your medications. Visit www.acscan.org for information, tips, and fact sheets. You can find volunteer opportunities at www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345 to ask questions of the ACs 24/7. Check out these resources for the maximum use of your Medicare benefits!   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
November 5, 2015
  Welcome!  My guest today is Dr. Steven Loomis, who is an optometrist in Colorado.  He has been a member of the American Optometric Association Board of Trustees since 2007 and is the newly elected president of the AOA since 2015.  He has served on numerous other professional boards and received many awards.   During this Medicare enrollment season, there are many questions about eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dental care, which are not part of regular Medicare benefits.  You may be wondering what to do.  Dr. Loomis is here to answer some relevant questions: How did you decide to become an optometrist?  “I had decided to be a pediatrician when I realized I might not want to be with children ALL DAY LONG.  A friend suggested optometry, so I considered it.”  Dr. Loomis has found the perfect niche over the past 30 years, and he is confident that he made the right decision.   Can you clarify the difference between optometrist and ophthalmologist?  An optometrist treats most eye diseases and injuries to the eye, along with providing exams for glasses and contacts. Optometrists provide 70% of primary eye care to patients. An ophthalmologist is an eye surgeon who works closely with an optometrist to treat patients.  They even sub-specialize in specific eye care fields.   Are most optometrists Medicare providers?  Yes, all that I know of are.  We have been full Medicare participants since 1986.   What will Medicare cover for vision care?  Medicare will cover any eye disease or injury, inflammation, glaucoma, but does not cover routine well vision exams.  Those diagnosed eye diseases have their regular exams covered to monitor their problems.  Medicare Advantage Plans DO cover preventative eye care services, but you MUST know and understand your plan.   Can you explain diabetic retinopathy?  The retina is sensory tissue in the back of your eye that transmits pictures to the brain.  Diabetes attacks the tiny blood vessels in the eye, but a special photo must be taken to view the vessels.  Diabetics and pre-diabetics must have yearly exams to monitor the condition.   Why should a Medicare Nation listener get an annual eye exam if they aren’t having a problem?  The two leading causes of blindness are diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.  Glaucoma is a condition in which pressure inside the eye damages nerve fibers. Macular degeneration is another eye disease. These eye diseases are asymptomatic, which means that they can exist without initial symptoms until vision is severely affected.   How would a senior make the most of their Medicare dollars?  They must understand their plan; participants in Parts A & B are eligible, but the amounts vary from state to state.  Usually, patients have to pay about 20% of approved amounts.  If they have met their deductibles, then now is a good time to get it done.  For example, the Part B deductible is only $147, so must people have already met that by the time the 4th quarter rolls around.   How else can uncorrected eye problems or undiagnosed eye problems affect seniors’ quality of life?  Most seniors want to maintain their vision for reading, watching TV, and other daily activities.  Also, falls are a big problem that can devastate a senior, and a significant number of falls occur because of poor vision.   Links and Resources:   www.aoa.org   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
October 29, 2015
Welcome to today’s episode, which covers Medicare fraud.  The Medicare Strike Force and the Health Insurance Preventive Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) exist to stop fraud in its tracks.  Do you think fraud is a widespread problem?  Take a look at the statistics:  in 2011, $15-60 billion was lost to Medicare fraud, and the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) predicts that $65 billion yearly is issued in error.  Those are huge numbers!  My guest today will  help explain the ongoing efforts to stop the fraud! Anne Frederickson works for one of the volunteer programs trying to help in the fight against fraud.  Ann is a project manager in Ohio for the Senior Medicare Patrol at Pro-Seniors, which is a non-profit, long-term care and advocacy program in Cincinnati.  Ann has been in this position since 2002, and has also worked in geriatrics and hospital administration for 30+ years.  Ann hosts a weekly radio program, “Medicare Moment” on WMKV 89.3 FM. Explain what Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is all about. SMP volunteers help Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries prevent, detect, and report potential fraud.  Across the state of Ohio, there are 3 paid staff members and 50 trained volunteers.  The SMP program exists in all 50 states and US territories. Tell us about the background of the SMP program. The program began in 1995 as part of Operation Restored Trust (ORT) in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Medicare Services.  The push to institute the program was spearheaded by two senators from Iowa. What exactly do the volunteers in the SMP do? Volunteers do outreach and group presentations, manage exhibits at health fairs and events, and help with one-on-one counseling.  Their “bible” is a personal health care journal, which is a tool to record information from health care providers.  Beneficiaries are encouraged to use the journal to keep track of their information.  Nationwide, SMP volunteers have recovered $106 million for Medicare and Medicaid.  They also seek to educate people to detect fraud and abuse. What are some examples of the kinds of fraud SMP volunteers would find? Billing for services and/or supplies never provided Luring beneficiaries into providing Medicare numbers for free services, and then billing Medicare Equipment or insurance plan providers tricking senior center participants into giving up their personal information What advice can you give about fraudulent calls during this open enrollment time? NO ONE calls a senior and asks for any information unless they are the agent of record that has already been dealing with the beneficiary.  You can put your phone number on the DO NOT CALL list, which subjects callers to severe fines if they violate.  Many states also have programs with access to free information.  Call the SMP about anything that looks suspicious on your monthly summary notices.  DO NOT ever be reluctant to call when you have questions.  The Fraud Hotline is 866-357-6677. How do listeners get involved and learn more about SMP? The best way is to visit the website at www.smpresource.org.  There is a drop-down menu for each state.  Online training is available, along with group education training and one-on-one training. Are people allowed to donate to the SMP? YES!  It’s best to contact your local group.  All SMP’s are hosted by local non-profit community groups, a state agency, or local county agency. Would you like to tell us briefly about your radio show? The show is “Medicare Moment,” and airs on public radio.  It features different guests who talk about health care topics, Medicare, Social Security, and other subjects for seniors and caregivers.  The 15-minute show airs weekly on WMKV FM. Resources: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov www.smpresource.org Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com          
October 22, 2015
Welcome Medicare Nation!  Today’s guest from the American Lung Association is Dr. Norman Edelman.  Dr. Edelman has an years of experience that includes:   Norman H. Edelman, M.D. is Professor of Preventive Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Physiology and Biophysics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. From 1996 - 2006, he served in a dual capacity as Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at Stony Brook.  A graduate of Brooklyn College, Dr. Edelman received his M.D. degree from New York University, where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha honor medical society. He received postgraduate training at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and went on to be a Research Associate at the National Institutes of Health, National Heart Institute, and then Visiting Fellow in Medicine and Advanced Research Fellow of the American Heart Association, Cardiorespiratory Laboratory, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Presbyterian Hospital. What is the American Lung Association? It was founded originally to combat tuberculosis, and was quite successful in helping get it under control.  Now it concerns it’s with all lung diseases, an advocate for clean air, and smoking cessation. What are the benefits of quitting smoking? Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US, ahead of even obesity.  Stopping smoking can improve your healthy at any age.  Stopping the progression of the disease is important in order to prolong life. Does Medicare cover Lung Cancer Screening? Medicare recipients meeting certain criteria, Medicare will pay for a Lung Cancer Screening at no cost to you.  To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:   If you smoked at least 30 pack years (a pack a day for 30 years) If you stopped less than 15 yrs ago 55-77 years old This screening can reduce death from lung cancer by 20%, by detecting nodules in the lungs.   COPD and Emphysema - what’s the difference? They are both cause primarily by smoking and air pollution.  COPD is what used to be called chronic bronchitis.  They now are combined under one diagnosis for ease. How does one get oxygen for home use? A physician would determine that you don’t have enough oxygen in your blood when at rest, and then prescribe supplemental oxygen.  Physician would fill out a form that certifies this meets the Medicare criteria, and once this is done, oxygen would be provided at no charge. What is Pulmonary Rehab and who needs it? Teaching people how to breathe properly.  Allows people to exercise and condition your heart and muscles so that they require less oxygen to function.  This eases shortness of breath.  If you have chronic lung disease, you should ask your Doctor if you would benefit from pulmonary rehab. What types of breathing exercises can improve lung function? The incentive spirometer can be a great exercise to increase oxygen capacity.  Any form of cardio exercises will allow the lungs to improve. Is there a correlation between early onset asthma and later stage COPD? Asthma sufferers frequently progress into COPD.  Asthma is a broad term and really can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  They can be different in biology and in our ability to treat them. How important is an inhaler with these diseases?   They can be life saving.  They are very effective for treating asthma and flare ups.  The American Lung Association is concerned about the affordability of inhalers.   Who are the lung disease specialists?   Start with your primary care physician.  They can then refer you to a Pulmonologist, who specializes in treating lung diseases. What diseases does the American Lung Association help with? Pulmonary fibrosis Lung cancer Infectious lung diseases Allergic lung diseases They also have a helpline and the number is on the website.   The website is a treasure trove of information - www.lung.org   Freedom from Smoking - Smoking Cessation program.  Best treatment  combines an accountability program, along with a pharmaceutical.   Got questions about Medicare Services for Lung Disease?  Send them to support@medicarenation.com.  We will address them in future episodes.   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com  
October 15, 2015
Welcome Medicare Nation!  Today’s discussion spells out the essential elements of Elder Law, and how the specialty is necessary for so many circumstances.  That’s why I am talking to an expert in the field today, who can help us clarify some common misconceptions, and also point us to the right resources to make sure you and your family are protected.   My guest today is Andrew Brusky, who is an attorney who specializes in elder law, offering services designed to provide greater options and security for the elderly and disabled.  Mr. Brusky regularly handles cases and is a frequent speaker on issues involving Medicaid eligibility, health care and financial powers of attorney, trust documents, as well as long-term care options for the elderly.  Andrew has worked for Legal Assistance to the Elderly in San Francisco, California and as an intern with the Center for Public Representation in Madison, Wisconsin.  Mr. Brusky received his Undergraduate degree in psychology and gerontology from Santa Clara University and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.  He is a member of the Milwaukee and Wisconsin Bar Associations (State Bar Elder Law Section Board Member and Past Chair, founding member of the Milwaukee Bar Elder Law Section serving as its Past Chair), the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, past chair and board member for the Greater Milwaukee Interfaith Older Adult Program, and is currently a member of the Life Navigators trust committee in Wauwatosa.  Andrew has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the specialty area of Elder Law and Wisconsin Super Lawyer.   What is Elder Law and the difference between estate planners, etc?   Elder law attorneys are looking at your estate, looking at what counts and what doesn’t.  They determine what needs to be spent down, and what steps you need to take for estate recovery.  There are also considerations for post-eligibility estate planning as well.  There are so many nuances to the law for each specific situation, such as considering what happens if the healthy spouse passes prior to the nursing home spouse, so it really is imperative to have a specialist to make sure there are no surprises down the road.  You want to leave yourself and your estate in the best situation possible in regards to taxation, etc.   What is Divestment and how is that associated with Elder Law?   It helps to think of it in terms of gifting, because you are not getting anything in return for the asset you transfer.  It’s problematic because it can be a barrier to qualifying for Medicaid.  Currently there is a 5 year period prior to eligibility that you cannot conduct these transactions.  An elder law attorney will be able to do things on the front end to make sure you aren’t losing your option for Medicaid.  There are many mitigating actions if this isn’t done correctly from the start, but it takes more time and money than if you did it the right way from the beginning.   Can Financial Powers of Attorney be helpful in the context of Elder Law?   Yes, many times the spouse who has all or part of ownership, isn’t able to administer it themselves, so someone else will need to do it for them.  Many of the pitfalls can be alleviated with a well drafted Financial Power of Attorney.   Are there times when a court guardianship may be necessary?   In cases of abuse, this frequently happens.  If there is mismanagement , there isn’t any family to handle the responsibility or even if there is a dispute about the existing Financial Powers.  It is always a last resort when there are problems with the administration of the directives.   Can having all the documentation in place ahead of time avoid Probate court?   Yes, and no, but while you are already putting steps into place, there is no harm in putting probate avoidance tactics into place.  Good advanced directives and financial power of attorney documents can go a long way in avoiding probation.   Will Medicare cover Long Term Care?   Medicare was not designed for long term care.  It is rehabilitative, and designed to help short term with injury or illness.  It doesn’t have the funds to pay for it ether.  The chronic issues that require custodial care are generally not going to be covered by Medicare.  Lawyers, discharge planners, and geriatric case managers can all be helpful in navigating these complex issues.  If you need monitoring of the care provided, these case managers can be extremely helpful.  It’s as if they are your eyes and ears on the ground, when you can’t always be present to intercede for your loved one.   You can pay your relatives to provide care for you.  Many times it has to be structured and done at fair market value, but there is no reason not to utilize it.  You cannot give away money to your children, but you can pay for them to take care of your, without ruining your eligibility.     What does the future of Elder Care look like?   Baby boomers are just now starting to retire.  Government is trying to get out of the business of providing long term care.  So, there are lots of changes on the horizon.  As more people become eligible, it may bring down the cost of providing care.  It’s important to have funds available to get yourself into an institution, if necessary.  Families are becoming more fractured and living in different locations, so more than ever we will be dependent on these types of programs.  The spectrum continues to swing back and forth between, people needing help and private planning for the financial burdens associated with these services.   Resources:   You can reach Andrew at apb@bruskylaw.com   NAELA - National Association of Elder Law Attorneys lawyers.com - referrals Local bar association can provide referrals Alzheimers Associations will have referral lists Consult neighbors and friends for referrals    Andrew speaks and the NAELA chapters and the Local Bar Association in the Milwaukee area.   Got questions about elder law?  Send them to support@medicarenation.com.  We will address them in future episodes.   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)       Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com                
October 8, 2015
Welcome Medicare Nation!  Today’s guest is Melissa Joy Dobbins, a nationally recognized Dietician with more than 20 years of experience dealing with the nutritional needs of not just Seniors, but people with special dietary needs like diabetes.  Melissa will show us how to eat healthy on a fixed income, and the things we can to do use food to help improve our overall health!    1.  Family members and the senior need to feel like you are in control of your own choices.  This means you need to take an active role in making great food choices, and feel empowered to make good decisions for yourself.   2.  It’s important for adult children to not be afraid to be a backseat driver for your elderly parent. Intervene when needed, but involve them in as many decisions about their nutrition as possible.             How to eat healthy on a fixed income:   myplate.gov will give you a ton of information. Fruits and vegetables don’t have to be fresh to provide good nutrition Eggs are a healthy and affordable addition to the diet, and even though the price has increased recently, they are still cheaper than meat. Utilize all the healthcare team members you can, in order to make a great nutrition plan for your aging parent.  So consult a dietician to help navigate some of these special needs.   The importance of a diabetes educator cannot be understated.  Preventative services like these are covered under Medicare Part B, since the Affordable Care Act in 2007. medicare.gov/partb and then go to free preventative services.           Regarding Type II Diabetes:   There are some simple, targeted things you can do that will result in better blood sugar control. If it is caught early enough, there may be changes you can make that can help to keep you off medication. Diabetes is a progressive disease, so even once you get your symptoms under control, you may eventually have to increase the prescription therapy to keep it under control. You can control your blood sugars, much like you can control high blood pressure, through a combination of medication, diet, and exercise.  Just because you need one or all of these, does not mean you have failed.     Anytime you have a progressive disease, like diabetes, your treatment plan will constantly change in order to maintain acceptable blood sugar levels.  Even if you are doing everything right through diet and exercise, medicine may eventually become necessary because of the progressive nature of the disease, not because you have failed.  So it is important to continue to have good nutritional habits even when you get on medication, so that you can control the symptoms.   Melissa has a podcast called Sound Bites, where she delves into the science behind smart nutrition, and also deals with the psychology behind emotional eating, and food triggers.  She gives you strategies to help you actually implement all of the sound nutritional advice.       Resources:   www.soundbitesrd.com - Melissa’s podcast and blog with lots of resources www.americandiabetesassociation.com - American Diabetes Association www.diabeteseducator.org - American Association of Diabetes Educators www.myplate.gov - A great resource for simple, affordable, nutritious meal plans   Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!  www.CallSamm.com    
October 1, 2015
  Welcome Medicare Nation!  We have a very distinguished guest with us today - Congressman Alan Grayson from the 9th Congressional District in Orlando, FL.  Congressman Grayson is here to talk about the bill he recently introduced in Congress, HR3308: Seniors Have Eyes, Ears and Teeth too!   Congressman Grayson lost his Father in 2000, and in the last years of his life, he had a broken front tooth.  This is when Congressman Grayson realized that Medicare arbitrarily excludes certain items for Seniors that are very important for their quality of life.  After he researched the Medicare details, he realized there were 2 sentences in the legislation that stated, “No care for Eyes and Ears”, and “No care for Teeth” for Seniors.   To rectify this situation, Congressman Grayson introduced a simple bill that just strikes those 2 exceptions from the statute.  He feels this is a common sense solution to a problem that affects so many Seniors.   Treating problems with eyes and teeth, can actually be a preventative measure to mitigate much more serious issues like heart disease and blindness, the treatment of which would require a much higher reimbursement from Medicare.  Congressman Grayson felt there needs to be a common sense solution to dealing with these normal issues of the ears, eyes and teeth, which are a natural part of aging.       Why has care for eyes, ears and teeth been excluded from Medicare from its inception?   The government is cheap and looks for any way to cut costs.  It is indefensible and nothing more than broken promises, for the sake of saving a few bucks.  Only circumstances with a medical illness or injury to these body parts would be covered by Medicare, but basic care for routine examinations are not covered.   What would be covered if this bill passes?   Annual eye exams Basic corrective glasses Annual hearing test Basic hearing aid Basic dental care   The goal is to catch problems while they are small, before they become a bigger problem, and thus a bigger expense for Medicare.   What are the chances of it passing?   We have 76 co-sponsors for this bill, within 2 days of introducing it.  I think Congress members overwhelmingly understand that this is something that needs to be provided.  Realistically, it will probably not make it for a vote this round.  However, many times issues like this have to be brought up again and again, before we can make a difference.     Congressman Alan Grayson is running for Senate on the platform that “Seniors Deserve A Raise!” He realizes that Seniors have been cheated far too long.  From the promises that have not been kept, to the double taxation on Social Security, he realizes that it is time to take a stand and treat Seniors with fairness and dignity.   Resources from the show   HR3308 Seniors Have Eyes Ears and Teeth Bill   https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3308/text     Alan Grayson introduces to Congress- Seniors have Eyes, Ears and Teeth Bill Video   https://youtu.be/myq6y3HFNb4   Congressman Alan Grayson Website    http://grayson.house.gov/     Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)     Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!   www.CallSamm.com    
September 17, 2015
  Welcome Medicare Nation!  Today my guest is Dr. Fernando Mirarchi, who is the Medical Director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  He is the  principal investigator of the TRIAD report.  His research has led to a spiral report that presents the confusion and risk around Living Wills and DNR orders.  Dr. Mirachi has written a book and several articles about this topic.     Dr. Mirarchi practices Emergency Medicine, but he is also the Chairman of the Medical Ethics Committee, so he has a special insight into end of life care and the breakdown around it.   Having confusion around a Living Will and DNR is a real possibility to the general public and it is a reality that many will be dealing with in the future.     What is a Living Will?   A way for a patient to document, in writing, their wishes for their end of life care.  The problem with this definition is, in medicine, everything can be terminal, if not properly treated.  The difference between an Effective and an Enacted Document are also misperceived as to when a document becomes enacted.  “The Living Will” will not prevent care from being provided, in order to save your life.   What is a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)?   A document that says that medical providers will not administer CPR, in the event that you are found not breathing and with no pulse.  The name of the document causes confusion, because people think it means you aren’t going to get treatment for a medical condition.  In legal terms, it only means the CPR will not be administered if you are found without a pulse and not breathing.  In order to refuse all types of care if you are critically ill, then you would have to sign a document indicating you don’t want any care administered. Period.   What is a POLST Order?   This is enacted when you would be in cardiac arrest, and a Provider would have to use this document to immediately chart the treatment for the cardiac arrest.  There are multiple options and this can also cause some confusion as to when it can supersede a DNR.  This process can also cause conflicts because it is a metric by which insurance companies are rewarding Providers financially.     What caused you to do the TRIAD (The Realistic Interpretation of Advanced Directives) Studies?   Dr. Mirarchi had a situation first hand, where he was being faced with paperwork that was being misinterpreted, and almost caused him not to save a life.  Luckily, another Physician was around nearby, who understood what the paperwork meant and intervened for a good outcome for the patient.  This and a few other circumstances caused him to write the book, Understanding Your Living Will. (available on Amazon and Atticus Books)     One of the criticisms of the book was that there was no research backing up the claims in the book.  This thought was what led Dr. Mirarchi to start the TRIAD Studies.     Dr. Mirachi views these decisions as a Patient Safety issue, rather than an end of life decision.   He created a checklist to help facilitate the conversation about these decisions from a Medical perspective and also from the patient perspective.  There is a checklist of the Medical Provider and also for the lay person.  Each checklist provides the ABCD for each role.   A - Announcing your end of life documents B - Be clear with regard to treatment with regard to the document.                        Understanding whether the issues are terminal or chronic illnesses. C - Communicate and coordinate with family members. D - Discussing the next steps and designing the plan for the patient.    You can download the checklist and cut it out and place it in your wallet (link)   There is a company called My Directives, which has digitized all of the end of life paperwork, so you can carry the paperwork with you at all times.   The checklist for the lay person basically spells out the same information, but in terms that anyone can understand.     The aging population is being unintentionally targeted in an effort to control healthcare costs, so it is important that every patient understand their options and having the ability to make it a two-sided conversation.   Resources discussed in the show:   National Patient Safety Article   http://www.npsf.org/blogpost/1158873/200782/A-New-Nationwide-Patient-Safety-Concern-Related-to-Living-Wills-DNR-Orders-and-POLST-Like-Documents     Dr. F. Mirarchi’s book   “Understanding Your Living Will: What you need to know Before an Emergency” http://goo.gl/WAv9Bc   Advanced Care Directives https://mydirectives.com/     Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)      Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!   www.CallSamm.com        
September 9, 2015
Welcome Medicare Nation!  I have to tell you that today’s show is packed with tons of great information.  The topic of today's show is making end of life decisions and having an advanced care plan for yourself.   Today’s guest is Dr. Stanley Terman (founder of Caring Advocates for Advanced Care Planning),a board certified Psychiatrist in Carlsbad, CA, and a published author on today’s topic.  Dr. Terman has spent the last 15 years focused on reducing the pain of terminally ill patients.   People’s greatest fear is losing control and it means that other people have to make decisions for you.  It becomes difficult for people to be in a situation where they have to make decisions about your life, based on your wishes, not on your finances.  This instills much fear within all of us as we are aging.   Advanced care planning has been painted as “death panels”in the media and has fostered the idea that decisions about your care will be made with bias.  If you learn what your choices are now, you can plan and then not have to worry about it later in life.  There is a freedom that comes when you have made these decisions for yourself, and it allows you to continue enjoying your life.     The majority of people in certain groups do not prepare enough for advance care directives: Religious people  African Americans   Living Wills tend to be more controversial, we understand that some are reluctant to adopt them.  Doctor Terman created a Natural Dying Living Will, which is an extremely flexible document.   You are required to fill out a form of this nature in order to document your wishes.  You don’t need to consult an attorney and you don’t need to spend any money.  You can fill out a living will for free.  The Natural Dying Living Will isn’t free, but it gives you  many options and it is flexible.  The document needs to be strong enough to compel Physicians to follow your specific wishes.  The Natural Dying Living Will accomplishes  this with several layers of protections built in, and it has proven effective to get the attention of the physician.  Once you have filled out all of the paper work,  Dr. Terman recommends making a video where you summarize your wishes in a video directive.   **You need a Durable Power of Attorney in order to give someone the authority to make the Physicians follow your Living Will.   This will ensure you have the 4 P’s   1.  Peaceful 2.  Prompt 3.  Private 4.  Passing   Caring Advocates provides a laminated business card with a scannable bar code.  When scanned, it immediately pops up the video of your final wishes, and the necessary documents for your living will.  There’s concern about finding documents or getting documents out of safe keeping, in order to submit them to the Doctor   When attending a counseling appointment with a Doctor, bring your end of life documents with you to the session. Then your session becomes getting your Doctor’s opinion on the decisions you have made.  Some services like Palliative Sedation are choices you may make, but a Doctor might not support it.  Better to find this out ahead of time.  Having a discussion about this type of treatment and even Respite Sedation are beneficial.  You need to give your Doctor the tools to help sustain life, and these tools can accomplish that.   Once you have this paperwork taken care of, including the Durable Power of Attorney, there are clauses that would allow for the changing of Physicians and even for changing the treatment plan.  So this way of handling your paperwork is comprehensive and it can last through the ages, and the changes that can occur.     Plan now, to die later, to live longer.     You don’t want to miss Doctor Terman’s offer to assess your existing Living Will for the 3 main scenarios that will likely cause your death.  It’s an unbeatable offer!  Listen to the show for all the details!     Resources Mentioned in the show:   www.caringadvocates.org   The Natural Dying Living Will   Doctor Terman’s Books:   A Lethal Choice - The Best Way To Say Goodbye Peaceful Transitions - An Ironclad Strategy to Die When and How You Want Peaceful Transitions - Plan Now, Die Later My Way Cards - Natural Dying Living Will Cards     Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)      Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!   www.CallSamm.com       
September 3, 2015
In this week’s episode of Medicare Nation, Diane Daniels interviews Max Richtman, the president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM). In this episode, Diane and Max discuss Medicare’s 50th anniversary, the role of the NCPSSM, the Supreme Court’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act and HR 3308 - Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Bill.   Main Questions Asked: Tell us what the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare does? How do you view the importance of the Supreme Court’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act and Medicare’s 50th anniversary? What is your take on Medicare’s financial condition? How can we balance the two schools of political thought when it comes to Medicare? Key Lessons Learned: 55 million people depend on Medicare for their healthcare. Billions of dollars are lost each year to fraud, healthcare’s rising costs, and increasing numbers of Americans retiring from the workforce. NCPSSM Former Congressman James Roosevelt, who was the eldest son of FDR, founded The National Committee. The NCPSSM is dedicated to protecting the Social Security and Medicare programs and is the second largest senior citizen lobbying association in the USA, with about 3.5 million members and supporters. The recent focus has been to improve, enhance, and expand the Social Security and Medicare programs. Supreme Court’s Challenge to the Affordable Care Act $716 billion was saved out of the Medicare program and the Affordable Care Act. These savings came from reducing payments to providers such as Medicare advantage programs and reimbursements to hospitals. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare beneficiaries enjoy preventative care with no out-of-pocket costs. This includes cancer screenings, colonoscopies, mammograms, and diabetes testing. The Medicare program is now solvent until the year 2030. Medicare’s Financial Condition In light of the Obamacare program, the solvency of the Medicare program was expanded for an additional 13 years. As the Affordable Care Act takes hold and reduces health care costs, it will have an impact on Medicare as well. Max is looking forward to additional years being added to the program by virtue of the restraint on costs that will be received due to the Affordable Care Act. Besides reducing reimbursement rates to providers, it has changed the focus on healthcare payments to be tied to value and not volume. Doctors and their staff have to be current and understand what is needed to reduce cost as so much money is depleted through fraud, waste, and abuse. Diane’s Advice Look at your Medicare statement every month to ensure it is correct with regards to providers and procedures. If you notice a discrepancy, then call your Medicare Plan immediately and report it. Remember, the patient can play the largest role in finding discrepancies and overcharges. This has a significant impact in reducing waste and fraud. Politics and Medicare There is a significant divide among politicians in how Medicare should function in the future. We hear from the campaign trail that it is fiscally responsible to reform Medicare, but we also hear expansion of Medicare is the best option. We need to ask ‘what does reform mean?’ To some, ‘reform’ is another’s idea of ending the Medicare program. The reason we have a Medicare program in the first place is because insurers didn’t want to insure seniors as it was deemed too expensive. The value of a voucher will not keep up with the increased cost and inflation in healthcare. It will become less valuable over time and less able to provide coverage. Using vouchers is a way to rescind Medicare law and go back to a time when people were on their own and a lot more seniors were living in poverty. HR 3308 Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act Congressman Alan Grayson from Florida recently introduced the Eyes, Ears, and Teeth bill. The NCPSSM wrote a letter endorsing the bill that will, for the first time, add coverage under Medicare for vision, hearing, and dental. Medicare and Hearing One third of people in the 65–74 age group experience hearing loss. Half of people over the age of 75 have hearing loss issues. Congresswoman Debbie Dingle introduced The Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2015 that will take a portion of that coverage and add Medicare coverage for hearing testing and hearing aids There is a lot of opposition from the medical industry as providers don’t want to deal with the Medicare regulations even though there would be a massive increase in volume. Dr. Franklin Lin from Johns Hopkins has developed groundbreaking research that makes a link between hearing loss and dementia and Alzheimer’s. Having Medicare cover hearing loss and come up with the financial resources to provide that coverage would pale in comparison to the cost of treating Alzheimer’s patients. Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here) www.CallSamm.com Episode Resources NCPSSM 1–800–966–1935 Congressman Allan Grayson presents to the House of Representatives HR 3308 – Seniors Have Eyes, Ears and Teeth Bill Congresswoman Debbie Dingell presents to the House of Representatives HR 1653 - The Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2015 Medicare Federal Trade Commission Click To Tweet - Spread the news! Are you aware of The Eyes, Ears and Teeth Bill? Find out what it means for you. @NCPSSM @medicarenation http://tinyurl.com/ow3ea9l What is Medicare’s current financial condition? Find out w/ @NCPSSM @medicarenation http://tinyurl.com/ow3ea9l
August 27, 2015
Summary: In this week’s episode of Medicare Nation, Diane Daniels interviews Curtis Bailey, who is a practicing Elder Law attorney in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Curtis is also the co-director of the Senior Scam Action Associates and co-host of the ScammerCast Podcast.During this episode, Diane talks with Curtis about one of her biggest pet peeves: people taking advantage of seniors. If you know someone who has fallen victim to a phone scam, Facebook scam, or had his or her identity stolen, then this episode is a must-listen! Main Questions Asked: How did you get so involved in helping the elderly with scams? Tell us about Senior Scam Action Associates. What are the most common types of scams? What happens if someone realizes they have been scammed and their personal information has been stolen? What are the credit bureau companies a person can contact? What are signs of a scam? How do we know what is a legitimate email? Tell us about your podcast, ScammerCast. Key Lessons Learned: Scams come in all forms: Phone scams E-mail scams Facebook friend requests Physical, “in person” scams Senior Scam Action Associates helps seniors, caregivers, and professionals who work with seniors learn how to recognize and prevent scams and fraud. Common Types of Medicare Scams Unsolicited telephone call from someone claiming to be a Medicare sales representative. A physical scam whereby an alleged ‘official’ agent knocks on the senior’s door. A true Medicare representative will never show up at your door. They will never ask you for money or personal information. Check Medicare statements each month and look at itemized details for each doctor visit and different types of tests and procedures. If you find a discrepancy, contact your insurance carrier or contact Medicare directly as it could be fraud or abuse. If A Senior Has Been Scammed Report any scams to the authorities such as local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If personal identifying information has been given out, check your credit report immediately. Contact any corresponding banks and financial institutions to report your identity theft. Credit Bureau Companies The three main credit-checking bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. If a consumer contacts one bureau, the other two must be notified about any possible breeches. Even if you haven’t fallen victim to a scam, it’s a good idea to get a free annual credit report. Curtis recommends requesting a free credit report every 4-months. Ex: Request one free credit report from Equifax in January, then Experian in May and finally Trans Union in September. Credit reports are free, but each company is allowed to charge for additional requests such as a credit score. Giveaways of a Scam The contact will always be unsolicited. There will always be urgency involved, and they prey on fear, greed, and anger. They will ask for personal identifying information. Tips to Avoid Scams If you are unsure whether an email is a scam, then make it a rule to not click on a link. If you are getting requests that look official but are unsure, follow up through official avenues such as visiting or calling the bank direct. Be aware of friend requests on Facebook from people you haven’t had contact with for a long time. Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here) For more information about Medicare, go to Diane Daniels website    www.callsamm.com Links to Resources Mentioned Senior Scam Action Associates ScammerCast Podcast Huffman Law Offices Scammed: 3 Steps to Help Your Elder Parents and Yourself Annual Credit Report Medicare Website www.Medicare.gov Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov Equifax  www.equifax.com Experian  www.experian.com Trans Union www.transunion.com  
August 16, 2015
I like to call Medicare Part A “The Accommo- dations” part of Medicare. If you went on vacation and stayed at your brother’s house in Miami for one week, your brother’s house would be your“accommodations.”  Staying overnight at your brother’s house would also provide you with necessary services – Bathing Using the toilet Eating meals OTC Medications you may need A bed to sleep in Medicare Part A provides similar services – and more, while staying overnight at a Hospital Hospice Skilled Nursing Facility Medicare Part A has a deductible when you are an inpatient in the hospital. Each year the deductible may change. In the episode, the deductible was $1,216.00. Currently, the deductible is $1,260.00. Starting in 2016, it may change again. In this episode, you will also learn: How to qualify for Medicare Part A If you don’t qualify how to “Buy-In” to Medicare Part A You will also learn: The Services covered under Part A A helpful phrase to help you remember Part A Services Links mentioned:      www.medicare.gov       www.callsamm.com
August 16, 2015
JFK wanted a national healthcare system for our older citizens. He even appeared on national TV to promote the campaign in 1962. I’m certain JFK would have seen his legacy if he hadn’t been brutally assassinated. When VP Lyndon B. Johnson took over as President, he continued the work JFK started, and on July 30, 1965, Medicare became the law of the land. Many changes have been made to Medicare over the last 50 years. And today, it’s still “a work in progress.” Items Mentioned in this podcast Part A of Medicare Part B of Medicare In this episode you will learn: What is Part A of Medicare What is Part B of Medicare Links mentioned The official Medicare website – medicare.gov Senior Advisors For Medicare & Medicaid – callsamm.com Let’s keep up the discussion on Twitter. Follow us @MedicareNation Visit us on Facebook and tell us what you think – www.facebook.com/MedicareNation Want to hear a particular guest on Medicare Nation? Let us know on our website www.TheMedicareNation.com
August 16, 2015
This is Medicare Nation. The go-to-resource for your Medicare education. The problem with Medicare, is there is an overwhelming amount of information and not enough resources to help educate you about Medicare and your benefits. We solve that problem. Each episode will have a wealth of education about Medicare. We will take a look at the history of Medicare, the components of Medicare and Medicare benefits. I will also interview guests who are experts in the health and wellness field, who will discuss Medicare related topics on illnesses, nutrition, diseases and injuries. I will update you on changes in Medicare benefits and legislature that is in the news. Join me as I discuss: How I solved the Medicare problem Why I’m so passionate about Medicare Mentioned Links: The Medicare Survival Guide –  http://goo.gl/TfLICa The Official Medicare website – medicare.gov Senior Advisors For Medicare & Medicaid – callsamm.com Talk about this episode on Twitter:  @MedicareNation Visit us on Facebook – www.facebook.com/MedicareNation
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