What is Medicare

What is Medicare? When do you enroll? How many parts are there in Medicare? What is Medicare Supplement? Do you need part D? All of these questions are going to get anybody’s head spinning so here are the basics of Medicare.

Medicare is a national health insurance program that is set up for most individuals that are 65 and older.  There are some exceptions for those under 65 and that would include individuals who are on disability or have terminal illnesses. 

For most individuals, when they turn that magic age at 65, that’s when they go into medicare a full time. When you’re about 64 and half-ish, you will start to get lots of Medicare information in the mail as well as some probably unwanted calls.

There are some who turn 65 and continue to work past 65 and are on your employer insurance and that’s okay. Once you fully retire that’s when you will go on to medicare full time. 

What are the parts of Medicare and how many parts are there? There are 4 main parts of medicare with an optional fifth part. Parts are made of A and B, C, and D. 

Part A is hospital insurance and this helps cover your hospital care. Most individuals get this automatically when they age into Medicare and is usually at no additional cost to you .

Part B is Medical insurance and that includes things such as doctor’s visits, outpatient procedures, lab work, MRI and etc.

Part C is also known as Medicare advantage plan. In order to get Part C, you have to have part A and B, that is the requirement. These Medicare Advantage plans typically have the additional  benefits that Parts A and B don’t cover which are things such as dental and vision. 

Part D is an optional prescription drug plan that you can either purchase separately or a lot of times, you can build into your Part C Medicare advantage plan. 

The optional fifth part is Medicare supplement or a Medigap plan. This plan is basically the bee’s knees. It basically help work side by side with the original Medicare and they help cover the cost that parts a and b do not cover.

Do you need part D? There are two reasons why we suggest that you do get a prescription drug plan when when you go into Medicare.

First reason is you incur a late enrollment penalty when you finally do eroll in a prsecripion drug plan. If you wait a couple years and then you change yur mind,  the amount of time you went with that one, you will paying a penalty and it’s not a one time penalty. so to spare you from having to do that, I recommend getting a prescription drug plan when you finally go into Medicare. Second reason is because we don’t have a crystal ball and we can’t predict what our health is going to be like in the future years to come. 

Most people tend to not get healthier as we get older so if you skip the prescription drug plan and at some point during the year something happens and now you are taking prescriptions and you don’t have any coverage at all, you can be incurring hundreds and hundred of dollars in prescription drug costs that you should not have to pay if you had a prescription drug plan.  We always recommend that you get a Part D drug plan whether you purchase it separately and get medicare supplement or you get a built in to your medicare advantage plan. 

We hope all this information is helpful and if you have any other questions, feel free to give us a call at 888 959 1028 or check out our website www.myhealthcaredirect.com for more details about Medicare.

 

Medicare prescription drug benefit or Medicare Part D is the US government’s optional federal government program to help Medicare beneficiaries pay for self-administered prescription drugs. While Medicare Part B covers all professionally-administered prescriptions, Part D covers all prescriptions taken by the patients themselves or with the assistance of a non-professional.

Before Medicare Part D was signed into law in 2006, Medicare beneficiaries in America paid for thousands of dollars’ worth of medicine with their own money. Fortunately, they can now get Plan D as a stand-alone plan or as part of their Part C plan.

The benefits in 2020 are also much better than what beneficiaries received when it was first enacted.

In simple terms, Part D is insurance for your prescription drug needs. You pay a monthly premium to an insurance company and in return, the insurance carrier’s network of pharmacies will give you a discount or coverage when you buy your prescription medications through them.

Part D is divided into four parts:

  • the Annual Deductible
  • Initial Coverage
  • Coverage Gap
  • Catastrophic Coverage.

Each part is designed to help beneficiaries spend less on prescription medicines.

Annual Deductible

A deductible is a specific amount a beneficiary must pay before they can make claims. Insurance carriers may charge the full amount, a percentage, or waive it completely. It’s important to research your options thoroughly. In 2020, you pay the discounted price for your medication until you make an accumulated purchase of $435.

Initial Coverage

Once you pay enough to match the deductible, the insurance company begins to pay a copay to cover part of the cost. Each plan separates medications into their own classifications and assigns the corresponding amount you have to pay. The insurance company will track how much you and the insurer have paid, until it reaches a total of $4,020. Take note, this total does not include the amount the government covers.

Coverage Gap

You will continue to receive significant discounts for your prescription medications after you exceed the amount for Initial Coverage. You only pay 37% of the price for generics and 25% for brand name prescription drugs. You enjoy these discounts until your total out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs have reached $6,350.

Catastrophic Coverage

At this point, your insurance carrier will start to pay 95% of the costs for your medications for the rest of the year. This is particularly helpful for beneficiaries who have expensive prescriptions.

Overall, Medicare Part D is a great way to save money while getting the medication you need. As you battle lifestyle diseases or serious illness, it’s important to have this kind of support. Protect your health from deteriorating any further by taking your medications as prescribed, living a healthy and active lifestyle, and following a balanced diet.

In your mission to pursue a healthier lifestyle, you might have encountered the term ‘superfoods’ more than once. Nutritionists and scientists, like New York University’s Langone Medical Center’s Despina Hyde, would say that ‘superfoods’ is just a marketing term for foods with high nutritional benefits.

The American Heart Association also says there is no clear definition of what a ‘superfood’ is. One thing’s for sure, superfoods aren’t magic bullets that will make you instantly healthier. Instead, they can help you reach your nutritional requirements with a smaller amount of calories.

Superfoods are generally described as foods known to be packed in nutrients or nutritionally dense. A smaller amount may help you absorb the nutritional equivalent of a bigger serving of another food. Most superfoods are plant-based, but some dairy and fish food items have also earned the title.

Most superfoods made their way to popularity for being rich in antioxidants, which are believed to fight or prevent cancer. Other nutrients include healthy fats, which help counter heart disease; fiber, which is helpful for diabetics or those with digestion problems; and phytochemicals or the substance in plant-based foods which may have a variety of benefits.

1,312 of the nation’s top Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) were surveyed in the 7th Annual Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey. They placed their predictions on which superfoods will be highly sought-after in 2019.

The top 10 superfoods, according to experts, include the following:

  1. Fermented foods
  2. Avocado
  3. Seeds
  4. Ancient grains
  5. Exotic fruits like acai, golden berries
  6. Blueberries
  7. Beets
  8. Nuts
  9. Coconut products
  10. Non-dairy milks

Fermented foods include yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut. They are popular for boosting gut health and reducing inflammation. These foods are rich in probiotic or good bacteria. They introduce healthy enzymes into your body, resulting in a boost in immunity. This can be helpful for aging adults who may be at higher risk for infectious diseases.

Avocados, on the other hand, lead as the 2nd most popular. This fruit contains more potassium than bananas, fiber, and heart-healthy fatty acids. Avocado is also used as a healthier substitute in recipes that need that creamy texture from other fats. Some nutrients are fat-soluble. This means that they need to combine with fat so the body can utilize them. Examples of fat-soluble nutrients include Vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as antioxidants like carotenoids.

Most other superfoods are known to be healthier alternative sources protein, healthy fats, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals.

While it’s good to eat foods rich in nutrients, it’s more important to make sure you meet your personal nutritional requirements – including calories. Consult with your health provider or an RDN to learn how you could change your eating habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

According to a 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million US adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. The rate of new diabetes diagnoses remains steady, but it continues to be alarming. Nearly 10% of US adults are living with diabetes, with the CDC reporting the disease as the 7th leading cause of death in the United States – accounting for 3% of deaths in 2017. Serious health complications caused by diabetes include blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, and the need for amputation of a patient’s lower extremities. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. The food we eat is converted into a sugar called glucose to be used as energy. An organ near our stomach called the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin to help move glucose into the bloodstream. In type 1 diabetes, these people’s bodies do not produce enough insulin or any at all, so they need to supplement their supply. On the other hand, the bodies of people with type 2 diabetes cannot use insulin effectively. Type 1 diabetes requires supplements but the risks of type 2 diabetes – which is more common in middle-aged and older people according to the NIDDK – can be controlled with proper diet and exercise.

Exercise

Regular exercise of at least 30 minutes a day will help you lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity, or your body’s ability to use the sugar in your body for energy. Exercise will also help use up excess blood sugar for muscle contraction. This is proven by a study by Ryan AS (2000). Cardiovascular exercises like biking, swimming, dancing, hiking, and brisk walking are great options.

Control Your Carb Intake

Blood sugar mostly comes from carbohydrates. If your body fails to regulate your glucose levels with insulin, hyperglycemia can manifest as fatigue, headaches, frequent urination, blurred vision, and increased thirst. These can greatly impede your ability to function normally. Control your carb intake by following a low-carb diet to reduce blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes over time

Increase Fiber Intake

Fiber slows down your body’s carb digestion and sugar absorption. As a result, your blood sugar will increase more gradually and reduces risks of hyperglycemia. Soluble fiber has been found to be more ideal in lowering blood sugar levels while a high-fiber diet has been found to be beneficial even to Type 1 diabetes patients. Finally, sufficient water intake has always been linked to better health. Through frequent urination, your body can also flush out excess sugar from your system. It also rehydrates your blood and reduces the risk for diabetes-related complications. Your best option is to stick to water and other non-caloric drinks for better health. With regular physical activity and proper nutrition, you can prevent diabetes and its associated complications.

Arthritis is a very common condition but it’s not well-understood. In fact, “arthritis” is not just one disease. It can be one of over a hundred diseases, but is a general team used to refer to joint pain. Arthritis can happen to anyone at any age.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention names arthritis as the leading cause of work disability in the United States, affecting 1 in 4 of 54.5million US adults and 300,000 children. However, it occurs more frequently as one grows older. As the most common cause of chronic pain in the country, it is also the most common chronic condition in the US.

Symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. It’s unpredictable as symptoms come in go in varying levels of severity. The chronic pain can make it difficult for one to perform daily activities and may even cause permanent joint changes.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Cartilage, the cushioning material at the ends of bones, would wear away and bone rubs against bone. This causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. Bones also lose their strength over time and pain can become chronic.

Age isn’t the only factor that contributes to arthritis or its symptoms. Risk factors include a previous joint injury, excess weight, and family history. Every pound of excess weight adds 4 pounds of pressure on the knees, and could cause further damage to already affected knees.

Thankfully, there are means to manage mild or moderate pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Preventative measures include:

Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce pressure on joints

  • Regular physical activity to exercise joints

  • Exercising to strengthen muscles surrounding affected areas

  • Avoiding excessive repetitive actions to avoid strain

  • Resting in between physical activity

  • Using assistive devices

Meanwhile, one can also ease the pain with the following:

Using hot and cold therapy

  • Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines

If joint pain becomes severe, it can seriously impact your quality of life. Other ways you can manage the pain is to have a healthy diet that strengthens your joints, bones, and muscles.

Osteoarthritis can also be prevented from the onset using the same methods: maintain a healthy weight, make sure you get your required nutrients, avoid injury, and minimize repetitive movements.

You can make the most of your golden years if you keep your body healthy and strong. Arthritis doesn’t have to be a persistent part of your life if you’re mindful!

Colder weather has become synonymous to flu season, or a time where people have a higher risk of getting the flu. The New York Times reported that we could predict how bad the upcoming flu season would be by looking at figures from Australia, which experiences winter from June to August.

Australia was hit even harder this year, predicting higher risks for those in the US.

According to the director of the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, the best move is to get the flu vaccine now. Since the flu virus is fast evolving, the vaccine may not prevent the flu 100% but it makes sure it won’t affect you as badly.

When you’re over 65, your immune system is hardly as strong as it used to be. This occurs naturally as we age and the yearly flu shot becomes a must. There’s a stronger version of the vaccine that offers more protection, so ask your doctor about it.

The flu is a minor inconvenience to younger, healthier people, but adults over 65 and those with chronic illness have a higher risk of serious flu complications.

Complications include:

  • Pneumonia – a bacterial respiratory illness where one experiences chest pains, coughs, shaking, and sweating. It’s the fourth leading cause of death among seniors, who can avoid it with a pneumonia vaccine.

  • Bronchitis – an inflammation of the lungs. Some forms of bronchitis leave the body after two to three weeks, but other forms could be recurring.

  • Heart failure – according to the British Heart Foundation, seniors have a higher risk of heart failure and heart attacks after getting the flu. Some flu medicines can potentially cause blood clots, so it’s best to consult your doctor before buying any.

Flu season in the US typically runs from October to March every year. The CDC reports 70 to 85% of flu-related deaths are seniors, while 70% of flu-related hospitalizations are over the age of 65. However, getting the vaccine reduces the likelihood of flu-related hospitalizations by 50%.

Any doctor of healthcare professional can administer the flu vaccine. You can go to your doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or a blood-testing lab to get protection against the disease. Some providers would even administer the shot for free.

Side effects are often rare and not serious, and getting the vaccine won’t mean you’ll get the flu. If you have had allergic reactions in the past or are currently experiencing a high fever, doctors may advise against it.

Other than the vaccine, you can also prevent the flu by practicing a healthy lifestyle and wearing a mask to reduce the risk of infection. Symptoms may not appear until four days after exposure so it’s best to seek medical attention when you start feeling ill. Your health is always a priority!