Senior Medicare Patrol Newsletter - November 2013

Medicare in 2014: What’s Covered & How Much Do I Pay?

            Our thoughts will turn to our personal budgets after the holidays, especially the question, “Will my bills be higher next year?”  When it comes to Medicare expenses --  traditional Medicare, Part D “drug plans,” and Medicare Advantage plans – the information we need is already in our hands.  Did you save these mailings from this past fall?

  • “Medicare & You” handbook for people on traditional Medicare.
  • “Evidence of Coverage” and “Annual Notice of Change” for people with Medicare prescription drug plans and/or people on Medicare Advantage plans.

These mailings tell you what will be covered in 2014 and what your costs will be for deductibles and copayments. 

            If you can’t find your copies, you can do these things.

  • “Medicare & You” can be read at www.medicare.gov or you can request a replacement copy by calling Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
  • “Evidence of Coverage” and “Annual Notice of Change” replacement copies can be requested by contacting your drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan directly.  (They are not available from Medicare.) 

 

Kmart Corporation Agrees to Pay Settlement for Allegations of Partially Filled Prescriptions

            The Detroit Division of the FBI announced in October that Kmart agreed to pay the U.S. government and 32 states’ Medicaid programs, over $2.5 million due to the allegation that their pharmacies gave customers only part of their prescriptions, but billed Medicaid and other federal health insurance programs as if they’d given the full quantity.  Iowa is one of the states which will receive some reimbursement for its Medicaid program. 

            Senior Medicare Patrol reminds everyone on Medicaid, Medicare or other health insurance, be sure that you and your insurance get what’s being paid for.  When it comes to prescription medications, you should count the number of pills you receive, to be certain it is the quantity your doctor or other prescriber ordered for you.  If you don’t receive the amount that was ordered, contact your pharmacy immediately.   

 

Cautions for Holiday Shopping

            The National Consumers League recently posted holiday advice on their website at www.nclnet.org/personal-finance.com.  Here are the highlights.

  1. Buying event tickets such as concerts or sporting events --  be sure you understand the rules for paperless tickets.  Sometimes they require an ID and credit card proof at the event.
  2. Buying online --  use trusted, known websites and only those that are “secure.”  Do not use an unprotected wireless network.  The safest method of payment is by credit card.
  3. Be certain your generous donations are made to legitimate organizations --  It’s always better to choose the recipients instead of responding to a cold call on the phone from a group you’re not familiar with.  Research the organization before giving. 
  4. Gift returns – can be much easier if you know the store policy; be sure to ask and be ready to give receipts to those who receive your gifts.

For more details, read the website noted above.  Informing yourself can prevent holiday shopping from turning into a disappointment.  

 

Tips for Seniors Who Help Younger Relatives

            The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, better known as “FDIC,” is doing much more than making rules for banks to follow.  They publish information for consumers, you and me, throughout the year.  Their recent article about helping younger relatives contains some good tips. 

            “Be on guard against phone calls from con artists who target seniors. A common scam involves an imposter pretending to be a relative in trouble.  (‘My wallet is stolen’ or “I’m in jail.’)  These callers do enough homework to mention the name of the relative or other people the senior citizen knows.  And by ‘crying,’ it is difficult to recognize the voice.  The scammer usually pleads for money to be sent immediately by wire transfer….and to not tell any family members for fear of upsetting them.  In one variation, the caller may instead claim to be  a lawyer, police officer or someone else trying to ‘help’ your relative….In this situation, always check with another family member about whether your relative actually is in trouble….

            Understand the potential pitfalls of co-signing a loan for a relative.  It’s tempting to help a loved one borrow money for that first car, credit card or student loan, but by doing so you will be liable for the full amount of the debt, plus interest, if he or she doesn’t pay what’s due….

            Talk with your younger relatives about how to manage money and use banking services responsibly. ‘Research indicates that parents or other family members regularly talking with a child about basic financial concepts – starting early and into adulthood – is an effective and lasting way to help develop sound money management skills,’ said Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC’s Outreach and Program Development Section….’ [end of reprint]

            You can read this full article and much more in the “FDIC Consumer News” Summer, 2013 edition at www.fdic.gov/consumernews

 

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

 

This document was supported, in part, by Grant #90MP0161-02, from the Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services.  Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions.  Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration on Aging policy.    

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