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It’s Time to Enroll in Medicare

If you’re an individual eligible for Medicare, this is a very important time of year. Open enrollment for Medicare starts on October 15 and continues through December 7. Open enrollment is the time when individuals turning 65 can enroll in Medicare coverage for the first time. It’s also the one time each year in which existing beneficiaries can shop for new coverage and change plans.

It’s important that you take advantage of this annual opportunity to look at your coverage and make sure it’s meeting your current needs. Your health, treatments and prescription medications can change a lot in a year, so reviewing your costs and coverage can help you determine if you want to stay with your current plan or choose a new plan from multiple available options.

This year, assessing your plan needs is more important than ever since the average basic premium for Part D prescription drug coverage is expected to decrease for 2018!

We’re committed to ensuring you have the resources you need to make the best choices for you or a family member. Basic information and videos on Medicare and Part D are available on our website. We also have a handy enrollment fact sheet in English and in Spanish. Additionally, you can find out if you are eligible for payment assistance through the Extra Help program and how to enroll (Spanish).

Seniors Speak Out also has additional resources for seniors and will provide information throughout open enrollment on signing up for coverage. Be sure to check back often to stay in the know.

Happy open enrollment!!

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The Different Parts of Medicare

Are you turning 65 this year? If you were born in 1952, this is an important year for you. Why? Because at age 65, you can now enroll in Medicare!

As I’m sure you already know, Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older. Medicare provides plenty of benefits, so you should be sure to enroll as soon as you are eligible. Don’t forget open enrollment is just around the corner and begins on October 15.

Before then, you might want to learn more about Medicare and what it can offer. For starters, there are four different parts of Medicare: Parts A, B, C and D. Check out our new infographic for information on these health care coverage options!

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Happy National Grandparents Day!

 

This Sunday is National Grandparents Day! Contrary to popular belief, this holiday was not invented by the greeting card industry. Grandparents Day was created thanks to the work of one tireless advocate named Marian McQuade. In 1970, Marian launched an effort to recognize grandparents in her home state of West Virginia, and later across the entire United States. Eventually, in 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed an official proclamation declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. As a mother of 15 children and grandmother to 43 grandchildren, Marian certainly qualifies as an expert in grandparenting.

If you ask any grandparent about their grandchildren, you will see their face light up and their voices fill with excitement. Though many describe the experience as being twice the fun and half the work, it is important to remember that in addition to being fun, being a grandparent is vitally important to all the generations of the family.

In the United States, almost 3 million grandparents are raising grandchildren, and many more contribute significantly with finances and time to raising younger generations. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A grandparent is a living embodiment of family history – both good and bad, and funny and sad. What was mom like in second grade? Did dad get into trouble when he was a little boy? What were you doing when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon? Only a grandparent can fully answer those questions, and what a great gift that is.

If you haven’t already done so, this National Grandparents Day, I encourage you to take the time to jot down a few stories you want to pass on to future generations.

To all my fellow grandparents, I hope you take the time today to appreciate and be appreciated for the unique gift of being a grandparent.



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National Immunization Month

Fall is right around the corner, which means many kids are headed back to school. For me, the end of summer invokes memories of fresh school supplies, a new sweater or two, and sometimes a trip to the doctor for dreaded shots. Though I’ve long-since graduated from school, this is a good time of year to remember that getting the appropriate vaccinations is important and not limited to children.

This August, in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, we’re sharing how important it is for seniors to take control of our own health by staying up to date on our vaccines. For those of us who have grandchildren, it is even more critical, as we don’t want to put our young loved ones at risk for an illness that could’ve been prevented by immunization.

By remaining diligent about necessary vaccinations, we can work together to help prevent infectious diseases. Doing so should be easy since some of the most commonly needed vaccines are covered under Medicare Part B and Part D. As always, remember to consult your doctor if you have any questions about what is included in your coverage or what vaccine is appropriate for your needs. As a starting point, be sure to read on and check out our list of the CDC’s recommended vaccinations for seniors who are 65 years old and up.

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The Results Are In: Seniors Are Satisfied with Medicare Part D Coverage!

If you feel fortunate to have reliable access to medications through Medicare, you’re not alone! Our partners at Medicare Today have released the results of their annual national survey. According to the latest Senior Satisfaction Survey, nearly 9 in 10 seniors are satisfied with their prescription drug coverage. In addition to overall satisfaction, the survey showed that 93 percent of seniors find their plan convenient to use, 84 percent think it’s a good value and 86 percent said their plan works well.

Medicare Today’s newest video provides an overview of the survey results and explains how Part D’s structure helps preserve the benefits that matter most to beneficiaries like you and me:

For more information on the survey results, read more from Medicare Today below. Also, make sure to visit their website and follow @MedicareToday on Twitter to stay updated.

 

New National Survey: Nearly 9 in 10 Seniors Satisfied with Medicare Part D

 Policymakers Weighing Changes to Prescription Drug Program Must Keep in Mind Seniors’ Approval of Part D’s Choices, Value & Convenience, Medicare Today Chair Said

 WASHINGTON – More than a decade after its initial launch, the Medicare Part D prescription drug program remains overwhelmingly popular with American seniors, according to Medicare Today’s annual Senior Satisfaction Survey.  The nationwide survey of approximately 2,000 seniors conducted by Morning Consult found that 87 percent are satisfied with their Part D coverage and 90 percent believe their prescription drug costs would be much higher if they didn’t have prescription drug coverage through Part D.

“This survey shows the program continues to work extremely well,” said Mary R. Grealy, chair of Medicare Today and president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of chief executives from all sectors of American health care. “Part D provides affordable access to prescription medications for seniors and individuals with disabilities, and beneficiaries are satisfied with the choices the program offers. They understand the great value it adds to their lives.”

Additional key findings in the survey include:

  • 84 percent of seniors believe their plan is a good value
  • 93 percent of seniors reported that their plan is convenient to use
  • 86 percent said their plan works well and without hassle
  • 83 percent reported it is important to them to have a variety of plans from which to compare and choose

At a time of uncertainty around healthcare issues, with some politicians proposing significant changes to the Part D structure, Ms. Grealy stressed the importance of not disrupting a program that works well and provides such high value to seniors.

“Now more than ever, it is critical that Part D be protected against needless and potentially damaging changes that would lead to uncertainty and threaten to undermine a program on which seniors depend so strongly” said Ms. Grealy.

For more information and full survey results, please visit Medicare Today’s website: www.medicaretoday.org

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About the Survey

Morning Consult conducted a national survey of 1944 adults who are 65 and older and have prescription drug coverage. The interviews were conducted from June 18 – July 6, 2017. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

About Medicare Today

Medicare Today is a coalition of national and local organizations representing seniors, health care providers, employers, patients and consumer groups focused on providing beneficiaries with reliable information on the Medicare program and its benefits. Medicare Today was created by the Healthcare Leadership Council, an alliance of chief executives of the nation’s leading healthcare companies and organizations from all health sectors.



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Older Americans Month 2017: Age Out Loud

In April 1963, after meeting with members of the National Council of Senior Citizens, President John F. Kennedy designated May as “Senior Citizens Month” – what would eventually become “Older Americans Month.” The month is used as a time to acknowledge the important role seniors play in the United States and highlight our impact on our nation’s history.

Since the era of Kennedy, every U.S. president has declared May as Older Americans Month. This year, President Donald Trump did the same and called upon all Americans “to honor our elders, acknowledge their contributions, care for those in need, and reaffirm our country’s commitment to older Americans this month and throughout the year.” Leading the celebration of Older Americans Month is the Administration for Community Living (ACL), who designed this year’s theme of Age Out Loud to “give aging a new voice – one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.”

What better way to celebrate this year’s theme than to get involved and raise important issues surrounding seniors’ access to quality health care services like Medicare! As seniors, we are the most important voice in this fight, so it’s imperative we use our time and resources to speak out.

If you’re a new reader, you might not know that your access to Medicare is currently under threat by the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This is a big problem for beneficiaries like you and me, as IPAB could soon be determining what will be covered under Medicare – from treatments, to procedures, to medications. In honor of Older Americans Month and this year’s aptly-designed theme, I encourage all seniors to join together to stand up for Medicare. Our voices are imperative to winning this fight, so don’t be afraid to Age Out Loud!

To learn more about IPAB and Medicare, view our recent blog post here.



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A Memorial Day Reflection

veterans day For many people in America, Memorial Day signifies the beginning of summer. While this celebrated day can coincide with the opening of one’s neighborhood pool or the first family picnic of the season, it is important to remember Memorial Day is something far more important than that.

More than 150 years ago, after the Civil War, Major General John Logan proclaimed that the 30th of May would be set aside to commemorate those who had died in battle. Now celebrated on the last Monday of May each year, Memorial Day is a day of quiet remembrance, where we show our gratefulness for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. This Memorial Day, here at Seniors Speak Out, we want to take time to commemorate those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. We greatly appreciate their sacrifices while protecting the essential American freedoms of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

For those families who have lost someone special in defense of our great nation, Memorial Day is especially close to our hearts. We hope that you use this day to commemorate America’s fallen heroes and enjoy the time with loved ones: friends, children, grandchildren, spouses or even neighbors.

We would love to hear your memories of those you are remembering today, so feel free to comment on our Facebook page here. As always, we thank you for being a part of our community, and we encourage you take a few moments to remember those who have lost their lives while you enjoy Memorial Day with those you care about the most.



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Protect Seniors’ Access to Medicare: Support Repeal of IPAB

kane-reinholdtsen-145944Attention seniors! If you are like me and depend on Medicare for your health care services, now is an important time to be paying attention to what is happening in Washington, DC. It is expected that the Independent Payment Advisory Board, known as IPAB, could soon become a reality.

If you are a longtime reader, then you may already know about IPAB from our previous post. If not, here are the basics:

IPAB was established by the Affordable Care Act. If Medicare spending exceeds a certain level, then a board of 15 unelected officials are given a broad-range of authority to make decisions about mandatory cuts to Medicare spending.

This is a big problem for Medicare beneficiaries like you and me. These bureaucrats are unelected and in no way accountable to voters. They are required to make spending cuts, but not to maintain quality of care. This means IPAB could soon be determining what will be covered under Medicare – from treatments, to procedures, to medications.

And don’t be fooled by the fact that the president hasn’t appointed members to the board yet. Unfortunately, spending cuts are still mandated by law, so all of IPAB’s power is shifted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Proposed changes by IPAB or the HHS secretary can even bypass congressional approval. In this case, the future of health care for millions of seniors could be determined by just one individual.

Across the country, more than 670 organizations made up of patients, doctors, hospitals, employers and veterans are advocating for the repeal of IPAB. Additionally, there is bipartisan support from lawmakers to ensure IPAB never becomes a reality. However, time is running out. As seniors, we must join in and encourage Congress to repeal IPAB today. Our health depends on it.



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National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

SSO Colorectal Cancer ImageMarch is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Here at Seniors Speak Out it’s important to be aware of diseases like colorectal cancer that affect older Americans. Because colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths – and a cancer that can be screened for often – it is so important that we visit the doctor regularly for screenings.

The first step to preventing colorectal cancer is to learn what it is and how it impacts your body. Colon cancer is a malignant growth that begins in the colon or large intestine. It includes both cancers of the colon and those that form in the rectum. Most colon cancers begin with the formation of benign polyps, or non-cancerous growths in the large intestine. Often, these growths produce absolutely no symptoms, which is why it is important to visit your doctor annually for testing.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends adults begin regular screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50, though those with a family history of this cancer should begin sooner.

Colonoscopies used to be a dreaded rite of passage for seniors. But there is good news! There are now various options to test for the disease.

Stool tests can be conducted annually, while a colonoscopy is recommended by USPSTF to be done every 10 years in the absence of polyps. According to Medicare.gov, Medicare covers colorectal cancer screening tests to help find pre-cancerous polyps. However, if a polyp or other tissue is found during the colonoscopy, you may have to pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor’s services and a copayment in a hospital outpatient setting.

Of course, it is important to discuss your testing options with a physician, who can provide you with more detailed information about each screening test, how often they should occur and what is best for you. Be sure to ask questions about how often Medicare covers each screening test so you know your potential out-of-pocket costs up front.

Again, because the symptoms of colon cancer are often unnoticed, us seniors must take charge of our own health and visit the doctor annually for a regular screening. Contact your doctor today to schedule a test for colorectal cancer in honor of National Colorectal Awareness Month.



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Get Up and Get Active This Spring!

Spring is on the way! All of us at Seniors Speak Out are excited to finally store our coats away, grab our sneakers and get out to enjoy the warm weather.

For seniors, a great way to take advantage of the new season is to embrace physical activity outside. After all, exercise can lead to healthier aging and it can allow us to live more independent lifestyles. Whether you’re a sports fan or an avid gardener, hopefully our tips on how to stay active this spring will lead seniors across the country to get up off the couch and enjoy the great outdoors.

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For the sports fan: Some local community centers offer croquet and bocce ball leagues for seniors, which is a relaxing way to combine exercise and socialization. Also be sure to check out the National Senior Games Association for more information on senior sports leagues offered near you.

 

 

 

benjamin-combs-27617For those with a green thumb: Consider starting a gardening club at your local community center. This is a wonderful way to get outside while also giving back to the environment.

 

 

 

 

mpho-mojapelo-173231For the animal lover: If you don’t have your own dog to play fetch with, volunteering at a pet shelter is an easy way to get active. At the shelter, you can offer to take a dog for a walk so you can both enjoy the sunshine.

 

 

 

ashley-baxter-27994For the photography enthusiast: Grab your camera and simply go for a walk. You will be surprised by the amount of beautiful flowers waiting to be photographed.

 

 

 


shutterstock_128091341For the social butterfly:
It’s no surprise that exercise is more fun when others are involved. Before you venture out on a walk around town, gather up a group of friends or family members to join in.

 

 

 

hannah-morgan-39891For the shopaholic: If there is an outdoor shopping mall in your neighborhood, window shopping is a great way to stay physically active while also looking for a bargain.

 

 

 
How do you plan to take advantage of the warmer months upon us? Tell us in the comments section below!