Make sure you’re protected from hepatitis

Did you know there are 5 different types of viral hepatitis? These viruses cause more than one million deaths each year, and that number keeps growing.

Fortunately, Medicare can help keep you protected from Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, the most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States.

Hepatitis is contagious. The Hepatitis B and C viruses spread through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. These viruses can cause either a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute) or a serious long-term illness (chronic) that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

The time is now, get tested for HIV

Did you know today is National HIV testing day? Approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) today, and 1 in 7 are unaware they are infected.

Getting medical care, support, and maintaining safe behaviors can help improve the health and lives of people living with HIV.

Medicare covers HIV screenings for people with Medicare, who ask for the test, are pregnant, and people at an increased risk for the infection (such as gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, or people with multiple sexual partners).

Traveling this summer? Check your coverage before you check your luggage.

If you’re planning a summer vacation, you already know that there’s a lot to do before you leave. There are passports to renew, suitcases to pack, and an itinerary to plan. We want you to have the most relaxing vacation possible, so before you go don’t forget to:

  • Look into Medicare coverage outside the U.S.
  • Think about getting additional health care coverage.

Time to man up and get screened

Are you the type of guy who puts off doing a task or getting a test and later wished you’d just gotten it over with? If you’re a man with Medicare, now’s the time to talk with your doctor about whether you should get screened for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or both. Screening tests can find cancer early, when treatment works best.

Don’t let the cost become your excuse to put off screenings—Medicare covers a digital rectal exam and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test once every 12 months for men 50 or over. Also, Medicare covers a variety of colorectal cancer screenings—like the fecal occult blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy—and you pay nothing for most tests.

Don’t let tobacco take your breath away

Hooked on tobacco? Make today, World “No Tobacco” Day, the perfect time to kick butts—cigarette butts, that is. This year’s theme is “tobacco and lung health.” According to the World Health Organization, tobacco smoking is the top cause for lung cancer, responsible for over two thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure also increases risk of lung cancer.

When you stop smoking, you can   reduce your risk of lung cancer. After 10 years of not smoking, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.

Unhappy with your care? Let us know.

When you’re unhappy with the quality of your health care, you might want to talk with whoever gave you the care. If you don’t want to talk to that person or need more help, you can file a complaint. Filing a complaint is your right, so if you think you’re not getting high-quality care, we want to know.

How you file a complaint depends on whether your complaint is about: 

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare health or drug plan, each plan has its own rules for filing complaints. If you still need help after you file a complaint with your plan, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

Medicare & stroke prevention

A stroke is a brain attack caused by blocked blood flow to the brain. It can affect a person’s speech, movement, and memory, and may lead to death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year. Stroke is a major cause of disability for adults and kills about one out of every 20 people each year.

Risk factors that may increase the possibility of having a stroke include smoking and drinking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. There are other risk factors that you can’t control, like being over age 65 and having a personal or family history of stroke.          

Feel the pressure—blood pressure, that is

About 1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure—and you could be one of them. If you haven’t checked your blood pressure lately, now’s the perfect time. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, but it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

It’s important for you to know your blood pressure numbers, even when you’re feeling fine. Medicare covers blood pressure checks during your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit and yearly “wellness” visits at no cost to you.

If you have high blood pressure, you can help control it with lifestyle changes and medicine. You may be at risk for high blood pressure if you:

Consumer Protections: Celebrating First Steps Toward a New Insurance Marketplace

By Karen Pollitz, Director for Consumer Support, CCIIO. Cross-post from Healthcare.gov

During the past year, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, some of us have personally experienced just how important the consumer protections—and other provisions– are in addressing some of the most glaring problems in the insurance marketplace.

Celebrate Earth Day—Medicare style!

More than 190 countries celebrate Earth Day on April 22—a day for encouraging awareness and action to help protect our environment. How can you make your voice heard this year? Let Medicare help! Sign up for a MyMedicare.gov account and take advantage of Medicare’s electronic resources to help you manage your health care and get rid of unnecessary paper.

Get your “Medicare & You” handbook electronically