bIf you’re signed up for email updates from the Medicare Team You should read this one… All links will take you to the Medicare website where you can find more information.
Happy National Consumer Protection Week! Now’s a great time to brush up on your Medicare rights and protections, and take action to protect your identity.
Identity theft: protect yourself
Identity theft is a serious crime that happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes.
Personal information includes things like your name and your Social Security, Medicare, or credit card numbers.
Guard your card and protect your personal information
To help protect your identity, Medicare is mailing new Medicare cards. Your new card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number.
Don’t share your Medicare Number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email, or by approaching you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in these situations:
A Medicare health or drug plan can call you if you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you.
A customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call you if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.
Only give personal information like your Medicare Number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf, or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare Number or other personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
If you suspect identity theft or feel like you gave your personal information to someone you shouldn’t have, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Help fight Medicare fraud
Medicare fraud wastes a lot of money each year and results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone. There are con artists who may try to get your Medicare Number or personal information so they can steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud.
Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card. Give your Medicare Number only to people you know should have it. Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Learn more about the limited situations in which Medicare can call you.
New Medicare cards
To help protect against identity theft, Medicare has mailed new Medicare cards to people with Medicare. Your new card has a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number.
Here is what was in my email inbox today everyone should be getting one of the new Medicare cards.
Your new Medicare card is coming soon
Keep an eye on your mailbox — we’re starting to mail new Medicare cards in your state!
Remember, once card mailings begin in your state, it’ll take about a month to finish. So you might get your new Medicare card at a different time than friends or neighbors in your area.
One tip: if you have a MyMedicare.gov account, you can sign in and see when your new card is expected to mail. Don’t have a MyMedicare.gov account yet? It’s easy to sign up — just visit MyMedicare.gov. It’s a free, secure way for you to access your personal Medicare-related information.
New Medicare Card
Wondering what’s new? The new cards are still paper, but they will look a little different. The biggest change is that your new card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number. This will help to protect your identity. Though you’ll have a new card, rest assured your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
The Medicare Team
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U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
This message is paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was created and distributed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. You’re receiving this message because you signed up for email updates from the Medicare Team.
Below is the latest information I received in an email.
If you live in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia or West Virginia — keep an eye on your mailbox — your new Medicare card is on its way!
Card mailing in your state takes about a month to finish, so you might get your new Medicare card at a different time than friends or neighbors in your area. Remember, you can still use your old Medicare card until your new card arrives.
Haven’t received your new card yet? Log in to your MyMedicare.govaccount to see when your new card is expected to hit the mail. If you don’t have a MyMedicare.gov account, you can sign up in just a few easy clicks.
Your new Medicare card has a new look and a new unique Medicare Number, instead of a Social Security Number, to better protect your personal identity. The new card and number won’t change your Medicare coverage or benefits.
Note: If you’ve already received your new card, that’s great! Start using it right away.
If you’re starting to get mail from AARP its time to start looking at healthcare options for retirement or it’s that time of the year “open season” to be making choices. Unforutitly healthcare choices are always changing and you have to go back and re-evaluate your coverage and options every year, For example, The Part B premium remained steady (for most enrollees) at $104.90 from 2013 through 2016. It increased in 2017, although because the Social Security COLA was just 0.3 percent for 2017, Part B premium increases for 2017 were very small for most enrollees. Unless the enrollee’s income exceeds $85,000, net Social Security checks cannot decrease from one year to the next. So the maximum increase in Part B premiums (which are deducted from Social Security checks) is limited to the amount of the COLA. In my case, I did get raised from $104.90 in 2016 to $106.00 in 2016 and $110.00 in 2018 as well as a reduction in my social security check. As far as what I have read I should not have had any net decrease of my social security check under the “held harmless” provision which states monthly social security checks should not be reduced. “If I am wrong Please correct me” and help me understand where my calculations were wrong or if I am misunderstanding the rule. In the meantime, if anyone has seen an increase of their Medicare and a decrease of the net social security check they receive you may want to get in touch social security to have them to straighten it out or at least explain why your check went down.
My plan on how to deal with my healthcare cost increase.
My insurance costs are 16% of my annual income which is good but I am lucky enough to be able to get it down to 8% by dropping my supplemental insurance which is the biggest chunk of insurance. I am a veteran but never took advantage of my VA benefits and by asking questions and filling out a one-time financial assessment after that the VA will get your information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). How you are assessed is determined by your military service. and income using a banding system. What this amounts to for me is I have no co-pay to any VA services that require medical attention including regular wellness visits. The only thing I pay for is my prescriptions which for me are two and I pay $5.00 per month for each which comes to $30.00 every three months under the VA. Under SSA Part – D prescription plan I pay $8.00 ever three months for one and nothing for the other so technically my VA prescription refills are more expensive but if you add in what I pay for Part-D for perceptions under Medicare I pay ($20.40 premium per month + $2.67 Rx) = $276.80 per year. But under the VA I pay only $120.00 per year which is for prescriptions only. I could conceivably cancel Part-D and pay nothing for premiums which would be a savings of $156.80 per year for prescriptions. Looking further If I canceled my Part-B I would save an additional $1,320 per year or $110.00 per month for a total annual savings of $1,476.80 or $123.07 per month so you see with a little creativity the savings mount up. But before you go canceling any insurance you need to understand 100% of the posable consequences.
Keep these things in mind and check with insurance providers as well as Medicare and the VA.
VA health coverage isn’t set in stone and isn’t the same for everyone. The VA assigns enrollees to different priority levels according to various factors, such as income and whether they have any medical condition that derives from their military service. If federal funding drops or doesn’t keep pace with costs, some vets in the lower priority levels may lose VA coverage entirely.
Having both Medicare and VA benefits greatly widens your coverage. If you need to go a non-VA hospital or doctor, you’re automatically covered under Part A and/or Part B — whereas, with VA coverage alone, you’d very likely end up having to pay the full cost yourself, even in emergencies. This is an important point to consider if you live some distance from the nearest VA facility.
You may be subject to penalties in the future. If someday, when you’re well past 65, you happen to lose VA coverage or otherwise decide that you need Medicare and are not already signed up for Part B (or have insurance from a current employer), you would likely have to wait a while for coverage and you’d be liable for late penalties that are permanently added to your Part B premiums.
Its a lot to digest I know and I would not make any of my decisions without careful consideration and consultation with at least two experts at each department (VA, SSA, AARP, Medicare and insurance providers)
Navigating the healthcare system can be a daunting and time-consuming task and it’s a little different for everyone. It will depend on your age, coverage, location, for example, someone in New York will pay a different premium than someone in Alabama. Here is a partial list of the Best & Worst States for Health Care visit WalletHub for a more comprehensive list, by services.