Some Benefits and Risks of Weight-Loss Surgery

Benefits and Risks of Weight-Loss Surgery When other efforts to lose weight haven’t worked, some people consider weight-loss surgery, otherwise known as bariatric surgery. There’s a lot to consider about this type of procedure.

While any kind of surgery comes with risks and is not to be taken lightly, weight-loss surgery may be considered suitable in some cases for certain health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or morbid obesity.

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Medicare Part D and Drug Safety for Older Adults

Medicare Part D and Drug Safety for Older AdultsOlder adults tend to have more health problems and often take more than one prescription drug to treat their conditions. This increases their risk for taking drugs incorrectly or harmful drug interactions. Here are tips for managing your medications and taking them safely.

No matter how old you are, it can be hard to keep track of your prescription medications when you’re taking multiple drugs to treat various health conditions. Each drug may come with a different dosage and its own instructions for how it should be taken. Add on the memory and vision issues that plague many seniors, and you have the perfect storm for misreading drug labels, taking medications incorrectly, and even accidental drug poisoning.

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Medicare Can’t Deny Skilled Care Coverage if You’re Not Improving

Medicare and the Improvement StandardIf you need skilled care, such as physical therapy or home health services, Medicare can’t deny you coverage because you aren’t getting better.

Many Medicare beneficiaries have chronic conditions or disabilities that need ongoing skilled nursing care, home health care, or outpatient therapy. Even if these patients may not get better, the treatment may be medically necessary to keep them from getting worse.

In the past, Medicare denied coverage for skilled nursing care, home health care, and outpatient therapy services if the patient didn’t show signs of progress. Also known as the improvement standard, this guideline meant that Medicare coverage for treatment ceased as soon as patients plateaued in their therapy–although they would become eligible for coverage again if their condition got worse.

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Medicare Adds Star Ratings to Dialysis Facilities

Medicare and Dialysis FacilitiesMedicare beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease can now use star ratings to compare the quality of dialysis facilities.

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is one of the few situations that may qualify you for Medicare before 65. If you have end-stage renal disease that requires kidney dialysis or transplant, you may be eligible for Medicare coverage regardless of your age, as long as you’ve worked enough quarters, are already receiving retirement benefits, or qualify through your spouse’s work history.

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Medicare Now Covers CT Scans to Screen for Lung Cancer

Medicare and Lung Cancer ScreeningsEffective immediately, Medicare will cover low-dose CT screening for certain beneficiaries who have a high risk for lung cancer.

Known more commonly as CT or CAT scans, computed tomography scans are a type of X-ray that produces detailed images of a patient’s body, according to the National Cancer Institute. In oncology, CT scans are used to screen and diagnose tumors and abnormal growths, to track progress during cancer treatment, and to monitor patients in remission. Without health coverage, CT scans can be quite expensive and unaffordable for most Medicare beneficiaries.

On February 5, Medicare announced it would begin covering low-dose CT screenings for lung cancer. Medicare’s coverage of CT screenings could help high-risk beneficiaries detect lung cancer at its early stages, when treatment may be more effective.

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Medicare Appeals Wait Times Cut in Half

Medicare Appeals ProcessThe Medicare appeals process is notoriously slow, with beneficiaries waiting an average of 235 days for a hearing in 2013. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Medicare appeals wait times were cut in half in 2014.

You have a right to appeal a Medicare claim if you disagree with Medicare or your plan about a coverage or payment decision. The problem is that, until recently, you could have to wait almost eight months to get a hearing with a judge. The good news, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, is that average wait times for a Medicare appeals hearing dropped to 113 days last year.

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Medicare Special Election Period Now Available for Provider Network Changes

Medicare Special Election Period for Provider ChangesDid your Medicare Part C plan drop your favorite doctor in the middle of the year? A new rule allows Medicare Advantage enrollees to switch plans in some cases if they are affected by a provider network change.

It’s a frustrating scenario for many beneficiaries: You get a notice from your Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan that your longtime doctor has been dropped from, or left, its provider network. If you want to keep seeing your doctor, you might have to pay the full cost out-of-pocket.

In the past, you would have been locked into your Medicare Advantage plan until the next Fall Open Enrollment season  (also called the Annual Election Period), unless you moved out of your plan’s service area or otherwise qualified for a Special Election Period. However, you may now be eligible to change plans if your Medicare Advantage plan makes a significant provider network change, aside from routine contracting cycles. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will decide on a case-by-case basis the types of network changes that qualify for a Special Election Period.

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Raising Awareness During National Heart Month

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can lower your risk for heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn how to keep your heart healthy and strong during National Heart Month.

When you think of hearts in the month of February, what comes to mind? Valentine’s Day cards, heart-shaped chocolates, and public declarations of love, perhaps. But February is also National Heart Month and a good time to be mindful of habits that keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk for certain heart conditions.

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Health Benefits of Chocolate for Seniors

Chocolate for Senior Health, image by Emna Mizouni, Creative Commons on Flickr Many studies over the years have found potential health benefits from chocolate in the diet.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways chocolate may help seniors, not just by tasting delicious, but by improving memory and cardiovascular health.

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Why eReaders and Other Technology Might Be Bad Before Bed

Why eReaders and Other Technology Might Be Bad Before BedDo you use a smartphone or tablet, like an iPad or Surface Pro, before bed? Whether you use one to browse the Internet, play games, or read a book doesn’t matter. There’s compelling evidence that suggests maybe you shouldn’t, as it might do more than impact your sleep.

Smartphones and tablets have become ingrained in modern culture. Some of us carry them in our hands all day, and keep them on our bedside tables at night. As such, it’s easy to see how one might grow accustomed to using a device habitually before bed: one last check of your social media channels, trying to advance through a few more levels of Candy Crush, or knocking off another chapter of the latest Stephen King novel.

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