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Medicare to Start Covering Acupuncture? Maybe

Medicare is considering covering Acupuncture and is looking for public comments on whether they should or should not.

For now, the Trump administration is seeking to provide Medicare payments to specific trial studies currently underway for the treatment of lower back pain by acupuncture.

See the press release by Medicare on the topic of Medicare covering Acupuncture:

 CMS Proposes to cover Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain for Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in approved studies

 Proposed decision would add new access to acupuncture for Medicare beneficiaries, as a potential treatment alternative to opioid use, while data is collected on patient outcomes

Today the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed to cover acupuncture for Medicare patients with chronic low back pain who are enrolled participants either in clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or in CMS-approved studies.  Currently, acupuncture is non-covered by Medicare.  CMS conducted evidence reviews to inform today’s proposal, and the agency recognizes that the evidence base for acupuncture has grown in recent years, but questions remain.

“Today’s proposal represents the Trump Administration’s commitment to providing Americans with access to a wide array of options to support their health,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Defeating our country’s epidemic of opioid addiction requires identifying all possible ways to treat the very real problem of chronic pain, and this proposal would provide patients with new options while expanding our scientific understanding of alternative approaches to pain.”

Acupuncture is a treatment in which practitioners stimulate specific points on the body, most often by inserting thin needles through the skin. CMS has been actively collaborating with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the Opioids Workgroup and Evidence Generation Workgroup to launch studies on acupuncture for the treatment of chronic low back pain in adults 65 years of age and older. Under today’s proposed decision, CMS would continue its collaboration with NIH to further develop evidence to inform future Medicare coverage determinations for acupuncture treatment for beneficiaries with chronic low back pain.

“Chronic low back pain impacts many Medicare patients and is a leading reason for opioid prescribing,” said CMS Principal Deputy Administrator of Operations and Policy Kimberly Brandt.  “Today’s proposed decision would provide Medicare patients who suffer from chronic low back pain with access to a nonpharmacologic treatment option and could help reduce reliance on prescription opioids. CMS will work closely with our sister agencies to monitor outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries receiving acupuncture to inform our understanding of the efficacy of this therapeutic approach.”

To read the proposed decision, visit the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-tracking-sheet.aspx?NCAId=295

Considering Medicare Supplement insurance to cover the parts of Medicare NOT covered by original Medicare? 

Call us for FREE help. 1-800-729-9590

Senior Savings Network.org

Does the Mayo Clinic Accept Medicare Supplement Plans?

Can you use your Medicare Supplement plan at the Mayo Clinic? Yes.
Depending on which Medicare Supplement plan letter you have, you may or may not be responsible for paying “Excess Charges”.

The most important question, then, is not whether or not they accept Medicare, as we cover in the video, but whether the specific procedure that you wish to have done is covered by Medicare.

Medicare Supplement plans only supplement what is APPROVED by original Medicare. If Medicare approves the procedure and pays their 80%, the Supplement plan, also known as Medigap, will fill in the remaining portion, subject to your deductible and possible co-payment, depending again on which Medicare Supplement plan letter you signed up for.

In this video, we go over the details of how Medicare and Medicare Supplements are accepted at the Mayo Clinic. Also, for those on a Medicare Advantage plan, you must look very closely at your plan and communicate with Mayo on it, as these private plans are most often not accepted at centers of excellence like the Mayo Clinic.

See the video:

What are Excess Charges with Medicare?

Are you concerned with how excess charges might impact your Medicare plan? This video answers that:

Important to note, in addition to this video, that Medicare Advantage plans have nothing at all to do with these billing scenarios. The scenarios, including everything having to do with Excess Charges, only apply to original Medicare and/or Medicare with a Medicare Supplement policy. Medicare Advantage participants are not free to see any original Medicare provider and have restrictions, exclusions, co-pays, etc. in addition to original Medicare.

Mentioned in the video:
https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/paying-a-visit-to-the-doctor-current-financial-protections-for-medicare-patients-when-receiving-physician-services/

Physician Compare at Medicare:
https://www.medicare.gov/physiciancompare/

Getting the most out of Physician Compare tool:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI91Cp2Xwu4

We help folks with supplemental Medicare benefits, from coast to coast, and our service is completely free.

 To reach us for Medicare-related benefits help, call toll-free 1-800-729-9590

How to Sign up for MySocialSecurity Online

If you have been searching for the best information on how to sign up for a MySocialSecurity account online, this is the best place.

In the video below, it takes you through, step-by-step the entire process. It actually only takes a few minutes.

The site is more secure than ever and, the part the confuses folks the most, is the part where it actually pulls your credit report and verifies you are who you say you are. 

We have found that, often times, the information they show you, in order to verify things in your past, do not apply to you at all. In that case, just choose “None of the Above” and move on.

If you have any questions or need help signing up with your MySocial Security account, just call Social Security at their direct phone number at 1-800-772-1213.

The site to start the process, after you have seen the video is here:

https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/create.html

See the video below. You will probably want to expand the video to full-screen, which you can do by clicking on the box inside the video playing window, on the lower right side.

The video:

We help seniors with their Medicare benefit choices. As you probably already know, Medicare covers roughly 80% of your costs, leaving a massive exposure – with no ceiling on how much you could pay during a health crisis.

Let us help! Our service is 100% NO COST to you.
1-800-729-9590

Senior Savings Network

Social Security Disability Income

How to get approved for Social Security Disability Benefits – this is one of the biggest questions on the internet.

In this in-depth video interview, we spoke with a former claims specialist form within Social Security that now works to help those applying for disability benefits. She has inside knowledge on what works and what does not work.

She loves to especially veterans to get Social Security Disability Income started as soon as possible and knows exactly what Social Security is looking for. 

See the interview:

After you have been on Social Security Disability for 24 months from the determined initial eligibility date, you are eligible for Medicare. 

The Senior Savings Network can help you, at no charge, to get the maximum value from your new Medicare benefits after you are newly eligible, following 24 months on Social Security Disability.

It is critically important that you not wait. You only have a very small window of “open enrollment” when newly eligible for Medicare. During this time frame, insurance carriers cannot reject you for Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement coverage. After this time expires, though, it becomes enormously difficult for someone on disability to qualify for supplemental benefits to Medicare.

The Senior Savings Network can be reached at 1-800-729-9590.

 

Can I Keep Plan F?

🙄 𝗖𝗮𝗻 𝗜 𝗞𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗙? 🙄

Many agents are wrongly telling seniors right now that they MUST get out of Plan F Medicare Supplement plan.

𝗧𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 and is sometimes being communicated as a fear tactic.

The truth is that you CAN keep your Plan F, if you have it, past the January 1, 2020 date after which no one new to Medicare can get Plan F.

The question is, do you want to keep a plan where the average age will be increasing daily and whose rates will start to climb even faster than they have in the past.

Plan F covers everything, and Congress did not like this. They say it causes seniors to go to the doctor far too often, so they have eliminated it being available to new Medicare folks after January 1, 2020.

So yes, you can keep your Plan F if you have it, but in this video, I explain why you should strongly consider NOT keeping it, and now would be the best time to take action.

At least see what’s going on in this enlightening video. – Chris Westfall 1-800-729-9590

What’s Covered App for Medicare

It is now easier than ever before to find out what is covered on original Medicare by using a free app for your smartphone. While this app is not perfect, it is continually being updated by Medicare.

It is important to note that this application will not work for anyone on a Medicare Advantage, otherwise known as a Part C plan. Why? Because Medicare Advantage plans are not “original Medicare” but are private insurance whereby original Medicare is waived for the period that you are on the “Advantage” plan. 

Medicare Advantage plans can have more restrictions and limitations and require referrals and plan approval before many procedures can be approved. So, if you are on original Medicare, or using original Medicare with a Medicare Supplement, or Medigap plan, this app will come in handy, should you wish to check to see which procedures are covered by Medicare.

At the Senior Savings Network, we help seniors with their Medicare plan choices from coast to coast with our free broker services. 

If you would like help picking the best Medicare insurance plan for you, call us at 1-800-729-9590.

 
Try the “What’s covered” mobile app!

 


   Downland What's covered on app store  Downland What's covered on play store

The app is an official program from Medicare. This website, the Senior Savings Network, and its employees, are a private organization not employed by Medicare and offer licensed advice and support for seniors in 46 states.

Cheapest Medicare Supplement Plan

Important Video, please watch:

As my mother always said, "Sometimes you get what you pay for."

When a new carrier enters a new market, such as many of these smaller companies that you have never heard of before, they are allowed to have rates that are too low and cannot compete, over time.
They are allowed to make projections on their expected losses, and those projections are just that, projections. When they are new, the state insurance departments allow them to do this, until they have real data, which takes up to 2 years.

During this timeframe, they will very often undercut the entire market with rates that are not justifiable. This means that they cannot sustain those low rates but hope, as they often to, that they will get so many customers during the first year or two, based on super-low rates, that their customers will stay with them when they spring out the REAL rates. These rate increases have been seen to be up to 15% per year, once the “honeymoon” phase has worn off with the Department of Insurance, and they need to go from “buying business” with super low rates, to actually becoming profitable by raising rates.

What is sad to see, is where a senior goes on their own rate sheet, or advice from a brand new agent who does not know better, and gets the “cheapest” plan in the market from an off-brand insurance company that has virtually no experience in the market. When they have been in the market less than 2 years, and they are offering what we call a “teaser” rate, this is a recipe for disaster.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

If you plan on being on Medicare longer than two years, the long term viability of the insurance company you pick should be very important to you. The rate stability is absolutely critical because, in most all states, you must qualify with health underwriting in order to change companies. When doing this, if you have suffered a catastrophic or progressively worsening condition that might last your entire life, as we see far too often, you are then STUCK with the insurance company you are with. Being with a “cheap” carrier right off the bat might very well mean that you are stuck with a company that:

1) Got you in with below-justified rates that they cannot sustain; and
2) Have too small an insured base to spread that risk among tens of thousands of other seniors in your state, like the larger insurance companies can do.

What happens in this case is that the small carrier can then go back to the Department of Insurance and get large, double-digit rate increases approved. 

Now, if you can predict what your health will be with certainty, in the next two years – great – take that teaser rate and switch companies when you get that first massive rate increase. It is sound advice to take a slightly higher cost company from the beginning of your Medicare journey. Preferrably, one with possibly millions of covered lives throughout the entire country, not just coverage in one state or one very small region. This is how you spread your risk and have rate stability throughout your entire time on Medicare.

While no agent can predict the future and see what rate increases will come from what company with certainty, what I have experienced in 25 years of the insurance business is that experience in the industry matters. Anyone can offer a super cheap rate. What do they do after that super cheap rate is the question.

How is their customer service with a small startup insurer?
How good are they at paying claims, with a small cheap company new to the market?

These are just but a few reasons why our clients are happy with our recommendations. We choose long term quality over short term cheap.

– Christopher Westfall, Sr. RFC

Ways and Means Committee Report on AARP Removed From Site

According to the internet archive, the last time the Ways and Means Committee report on AARP was available at its location on the congressional website was December 25, 2018. Some time shortly thereafter, before the new year of 2019, the file has been removed.

A Google search of the file name will show that it has been referenced in thousands of other websites and news reports, however, a click on those links, pointing back to the Ways and Means Committee website now shows, “FILE NOT FOUND.”


As the original report from 2011 was newsworthy and enlightening, the Senior Savings Network has decided to post the original report here, in its entirety. 
See the original report:

Until it is removed, too, here is the video talking about the report, from the Ways and Means Committee’s Youtube channel:

Feel free to share this page.

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