Aging Energized Articles

Read about topics to help you age well, enjoy your retirement years, and navigate the intricacies of Medicare and Social Security.

Medicare vs. Medicaid - Do You Know the Difference?

medicaid medicare Jun 29, 2020

Medicare and Medicaid sound similar, but they're actually very different. Each provides different types of assistance to help with healthcare. Both are government programs, but they are very different. Medicare is provided by the federal government (the Social Security Administration). Medicaid is provided by state governments and varies from state to state. Medicare is available to anyone age 65 and older who has worked at least 10 years in the U.S., and at any age to people with disabilities. Medicaid is only available to people with limited income and assets.

Let's look at the other differences.

Medicare

Medicare is federal healthcare insurance for people 65 years of age or older. You can get Medicare under age 65 if you have a qualifying disability, including end stage renal disease (ESRD) or ALS. Medicare covers inpatient or hospital care (Part A), outpatient services (Part B), and prescription drugs (Part D). Other plans, such as Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medigap are...

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How Safe is that Nursing Home?

Have you visited Medicare's web page for finding and comparing nursing homes? You can enter a ZIP code, city and state, or just a state to find nursing homes and compare their ratings for health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. If you're lookig for a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, this information is extremely helpful.

But with COVID-19 and the pandemic, there are more reasons wto be concerned about nursing homes. many of the most serious COVID-19 outbreaks have been in care facilities. This means that new tools are needed to determine which care facilities have not only the best ratings, but also have the fewest COVID-19 cases.

CMS Providing COVID-19 Nursing Home Data

 In early June 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, or CMS.gov) started posting its first set of underlying COVID-19 data for nursing homes. This is part of their effort to require nursing homes to inform residents and their families of COVID-19 cases in their...

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New Book--Medicare Basics

books medicare Jun 12, 2020

Aging Energized has released a new eBook, Medicare Basics. Unlike many Medicare books currently available, this book is current with 2020 Medicare information. It starts at the beginning and works through the basic information you need to know about Medicare. After a short overview of Medicare's parts, you learn the details of when you need to sign up. This information alone is worth the price of the book, because it can save you from the late penalties that can become part of your Medicare premium for the rest of your life if you sign up for Medicare late.

The book then goes on to explain each of Medicare's parts in detail. This empowers you to choose the best Medicare plans for your personal situation.

Throughout the book, recommendations and guidance are provided to help you understand how information pertains to you. Examples and a case study are used to communicate key points. The closing chapters go into detail about different scenarios for what plans a person might choose and...

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Coronavirus and Medicare

medicare Mar 23, 2020

There's no doubt that by now you've heard about the Coronavirus (which is officially called "2019 Novel Coroavirus" or "COVID-19"). Medicare recently released a statement saying that Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers a test to see if you have Coronavirus.

To get the test, your doctor or health care provider must order it. The availability of tests at this time is limited, however, and varies depending on your location. This is expected to change in the next days and weeks. Be sure to check with your health care provider for information if you feel that you need to be tested.

Medicare Coverage of Coronavirus Test

Here are the details of what Medicare covers for Coronavirus:

  • Lab tests for COVID-10. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
  • All medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if your diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
  • A vaccine for...
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Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap

Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap. There are actually three choices to contemplate but this quickly resolves down to these two primary choices.

When you sign for Medicare at age 65, you first sign up for Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (outpatient and physician insurance). For most people Part A is free and Part B is reasonably priced at $144.60 per month in 2020. You could stop here with this basic coverage and not purchase any additional health insurance. This is not advised, but you could.

The three choices to contemplate are:

  1. Sign up for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) only and do not sign up for additional supplement coverage.
  2. Sign up for Original Medicare and also sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  3. Sign up for Original Medicare and also sign up for a Medigap Plan and a Part D prescription drug plan.

We don't advise that you choose option 1, original Medicare with no additional supplement coverage. Why? Because the out-of-pocket expenses, at 20% of total...

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Your Social Security and Medicare Accounts

medicare social security Feb 11, 2020

When you go to https://medicare.gov to sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B (original Medicare), you may not realize that the first thing you will do is to create an account with the Social Security Administration . . . even if you're not planning on collecting Social Security yet. It's a little confusing, so we want to clarify the difference between your Social Security account and your Medicare account. Each serves a different, but very important, purpose.

Social Security Account

 When you go to https://medicare.gov and click on a link to sign up for Medicare, the link opens a Social Security Administration web page. This page begins the process of creating a Social Security account. The online form collects all the necessary information for your Medicare Part A application. You can also create your Social Security account by calling or visiting the Social Security Administration.

After the Social Security Administration receives your application, they review it. If they...

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Questions People Ask About Medicare

courses medicare Jan 16, 2020

Based on discussions and feedback from many people, we have compiled the list of key questions people want answers to when they set out to investigate and learn more about Medicare:

  • When should I sign up?
  • How do I sign up?
  • How do I pay/when do I pay?
  • Do I need Medigap?
  • Do I need part D?
  • Explain the pros and cons of Advantage plans.
  • How different is Medicare than the healthcare coverage I have through my employer?
  • What if I don’t sign up for Medigap now?
  • Can I change my Medigap plan later?
  • Medigap vs. Advantage - Is one better than the other?
  • Can I change my Part D later?
  • Do I need part B if I’m still working and have insurance?
  • If I’m still working and have insurance, what plan is primary?
  • How do I find a Medigap plan?
  • Can I keep my Doctor/hospital?
  • Does Medicare cover vision, dental, or hearing?

We have answers to these questions, and much more, in our Medicare Basics course

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Your "Welcome to Medicare" Exam

Once you sign up for Medicare, everyone receives a free medical exam. It's called your Welcome to Medicare exam or visit.

The primary purpose of this visit is to give your Medicare doctor insight into your current health and to establish a baseline for future care.

Here are some key things to know about this particular doctor visit:

  • This visit must take place in the first 12 months of signing up for Part B.
  • This visit is free (100% covered) if the provider (doctor) accepts Medicare patients.
  • This visit is optional, not required.

Here are some things to expect during the exam. The doctor will:

  • Evaluate your medical history
  • Check blood pressure
  • Record height and weight
  • Discuss current conditions and prescriptions
  • Create a preventative screenings calendar

The doctor will want to know if you are up to date on health screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, prostate exams, and others.

This visit is NOT an in-depth, comprehensive, full-body work-up physical that includes a body...

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Medicare Rights Center Testifies Before Congress to Improve Part B Enrollment

legislation medicare Jan 10, 2020

On January 8, 2020, Medicare Rights Center President Fred Riccardi testified at a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health titled “Legislation to Improve Americans’ Health Care Coverage and Outcomes.”

In the testimony, Medicare Rights urged Congress to pass the bipartisan, bicameral Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (H.R. 2477) without delay.

The BENES Act is urgently needed to modernize and simplify the Medicare Part B enrollment process. Currently, far too many people make honest mistakes when trying to understand and navigate this confusing system. The consequences of such missteps are significant—including late enrollment penalties, higher out-of-pocket health care costs, gaps in coverage, and barriers to accessing needed services.

Unfortunately, many people do make mistakes. Year after year, among the most frequent calls to the National Consumer Helpline are...

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Medicare Advantage Plan OR Medigap Plan?

This is probably the most asked question when investigating Medicare for yourself or a loved one:

Should I choose original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and then also choose a Medigap plan plus a Part D Prescription Drug plan?

or

Should I instead choose a Medicare Advantage plan? In this case, we are assuming an Advantage plan that has prescription drug coverage included and may also have other services such as dental, vision, or hearing also bundled.

The best way to increase your knowledge to better equip yourself to make this very important life decision is to take the full Medicare Basics course from Aging Energized. The 8 lessons in this course provide the information you need to make an informed decision that best meets the needs of you and your family.

You will learn this decision is a very personal one. There are potential lifetime benefits or consequences. 

This is not just a simple financial decision. There are other factors that weigh heavily into the decision. Take...

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