Senior Medicare Patrol Newsletter, April 2014

How to Recognize “Official” Medicare Mail

            Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol often receives questions from persons on Medicare about mail that appears to be from Medicare  -- they want to verify it’s legitimate. 

            You can view the types of Medicare letters on their website at www.Medicare.gov; click on the “forms, help & resources” tab and look for “mail you get about Medicare.”  You’ll see a list of letters that Medicare sends.  You can click on each letter and view a sample.  If you don’t have a computer at home, ask a friend or family member to help you look up the information or go to your local library to ask for their help. 

            If you are on original Medicare, the mail you receive most often from Medicare is the “Medicare Summary Notice.”   It is mailed every three months to tell you what Medicare approved and paid on your medical bills.  You may get more than one notice every quarter because Medicare sends separate notices about different types of services.

  • The hospital, home health and hospice part of Medicare (“Part A”).
  • The outpatient part of Medicare (“Part B”).
  • The durable medical equipment part of Medicare (“DME”).

The Medicare website even shows you what the envelope looks like for your Medicare Summary Notice.  The return address will show it’s from “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”  It will also have a business name and address underneath to tell you the company that processed your Medicare claim. 

            If you are on a Medicare prescription drug plan, you’ll receive a monthly “explanation of benefits” about what the drug plan paid for you (along with other information) in the previous month. 

            If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you may not receive a statement of benefits each month, depending upon your plan.  But later this year, new rules will require all Medicare Advantage plans to send statements providing information similar to the “Medicare Summary Notice” mentioned earlier.   

            Lastly, you might receive a survey from Medicare, although only a small percentage of persons on Medicare are surveyed.  The envelope and survey will show a company name; Medicare contracts with businesses to conduct surveys for them.  Some Iowans have recently received surveys from “Impaq International” which is a legitimate company running a Medicare survey currently.  Participating in a survey is usually optional; be sure to read it carefully to understand if you must complete and return the questionnaire.   

 

Iowa Attorney General Advisory – Home Repairs

            Attorney General Tom Miller has issued new tips this spring for persons thinking of arranging repairs for their homes.  Home repair scams occur every year! Here are red flags to help you spot a potential scam.

  • Repairman/contractor visits your home uninvited, in an unmarked vehicle.
  • They say your driveway or roof needs repairs, they have leftover materials from another job and can give you a discount.
  • They want you to decide immediately and pay in cash – often in advance!
  • They tell you a written contract or agreement isn’t necessary.  

You can read detailed tips for choosing and working with a contractor at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov and clicking on “protecting consumers.”   Remember that Iowa’s springs and summers often bring storm damage; read up on these tips from the Attorney General so you can be prepared if you have to deal with property damage. 

  

  • News prepared by Deb Yankey, Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Coordinator, Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A), Waterloo, IA,  dyankey@nei3a.org

 

 

 

 

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