Healthy Aging

by Renea Dennison, Contributor

DTS_BMX1_8 Ride bike into sunsetThe end of August seems like a good time to discuss healthy aging, as September, among other things, is designated Healthy Aging Month. Hopefully you already do things to help keep your mind and body healthy and young such as eating right, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and spending time with loved ones. These steps make us all feel more healthy and energetic regardless of age.

However, a large portion of the population is now over 45, and if that includes you there may be a few more things you can do to improve your health and wellness. Here are some (paraphrased) ideas from the editors of “Healthy Aging Magazine”:

Stop acting your age. Do you look in the mirror and think about how old you are? Stop it! Instead, think of your favorite age (35, 50, etc.) and act as if you are that age.

Be positive. No complaining! To go along with this, also avoid pessimistic and complaining friends and family and negative programs such as the news. This is probably the hardest suggestion to take, but can truly make a huge difference in your life. And who knows? You may be able to influence a Debbie Downer to turn their attitude around.

Body language counts. Stand straight and tall, shoulders back and chin up. Walk like a vibrant, healthy person with your heel first. Smile. It may sound silly, but science has proven it matters.

Lonely? Make new friends by volunteering, taking a class, tutoring someone, or just invite someone out. Make a point to go out at least once a week. You can also walk your dog (a great conversation starter) or volunteer at your local animal shelter (ah…puppy love.)

Discover your inner artist. It is not too late to learn to play the piano or the violin. Take an oil painting class or learn to work with wood or anything that interests you.

Being healthy includes a healthy mind. How you live your life is up to you. Make it count!

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

 

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Questions For Your Doctor

ambulanceBy Renea Dennison, Contributor

Visiting your doctor can be stressful, especially when you don’t feel well or are worried about your condition. It can be hard to remember everything you wanted to ask and understand what you are told in the short time you have with your physician.

PREPARE

Before going to your appointment, prepare and write down your questions. During your appointment, write down the answers, or bring someone with you to help you remember the answers. If you do not understand the response, ask for clarification. Do not be rushed or embarrassed if the explanation does not make sense to you.

QUESTIONS

Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • What are my different treatment options? What outcomes should I expect from each, and what side effects?
  • Are there any alternatives? Can we revisit this later? Is there anything I can do on my own to improve my condition?
  • Will this medication interact with any others I am taking? Please spell the name of the drug.
  • Why do I need this test? How safe is it? When will I get my results? How much will it cost me?
  • How experienced are you at this diagnosis? Should I get a second opinion?
  • Is there anything I should have asked that I have not asked?

FOLLOW UP

If you follow your physician’s orders and have side effects, or your symptoms worsen, contact your doctor immediately. You should also check in with your doctor if you receive any new prescriptions, take new over the counter medications, and to get your test results. Do not assume test results were good because you have not heard from your doctor.

Take your medications, undergo tests, and follow your doctor’s orders as closely as possible. If he/she recommends something too difficult for you, such as losing weight or stopping smoking, go back and ask for help. Following your doctor’s recommendations is the best way to get good results. If you decide your doctor is wrong, then get a second opinion. Don’t just ignore them. Your health is too important.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

C IN THE MEDICARE ALPHABET

Mature couple on benchby Bob Evenson, Contributor

Medicare Advantage Plans, also called ‘Part C’ Plans, are private insurance Plans approved by Medicare. With a Part C Plan, Medicare pays a fixed amount to the insurance company each month and the insurance company assumes all the risk associated with your healthcare.  If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you are still enrolled in Parts A and B, or Original Medicare. However, your coverage will be through the Medicare Advantage Plan and not Orginal Medicare.

Medicare Advantage Plans must follow all the rules set by Medicare and must contain all the benefits of Part’s A and B. Medicare Advantage Plans may offer additional benefits such as dental, vision, hearing coverage and gym memberships. Prescription drugs may or may not be included in the plan. Like Original Medicare, your Plan will most likely have deductibles and co-payments.   In addition, there is usually some kind of provider networks as well.

Medicare Advantage Plans may have a monthly premium and contain an out of pocket limit on claims. Out of pocket amounts can be different for in network and out of network providers. However, you’re always covered for emergency and urgent care.

Part C, just like Part D, has an open enrollment period each year. This gives the beneficiary the opportunity to evaluate the plans available for the up coming year. The Medicare Advantage Plan can make adjustments from year to year concerning premiums, benefit coverages, participating physicians and pharmacies to name a few.

Medicare Part C, another option for beneficiaries to choose. With the help of a qualified advisor, a Medicare Advantage Plan may be the choice for you.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

MEDICARE & PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

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Bob Evenson, Contributor

Did you know the original proposal for Medicare had outpatient prescription drug coverage? This benefit was under Part B and was dropped on the grounds of unpredictability and the potentially high cost.

In 1988, a prescription benefit was enacted, but one year later it was repealed. Finally, on December 08, 2003 President George W. Bush signed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act giving Medicare beneficiaries prescription drug coverage (Part D).

Part D of Medicare is a federal program to subsidize the cost of prescription drugs for those individuals who have Part A and/or Part B. Each year during the Annual Open Enrollment period beneficiaries can evaluate their current coverage and explore the new Plans for the next calendar year. Since each Plan has its own list of covered drugs, tiers, and covered pharmacies, it is encouraged that every beneficiary takes the time to review the changes for the year.

Medicare also makes changes. For example, 2018 Plans with a deductible can charge you up to $405 and the coverage gap (donut hole) will begin at $3,750. Your percentage for brand-name drugs in the coverage gap will be 35% and 44% for generic drugs. The new TrOOP or the true out-of-pocket cost is $5,000. These are just a few of the new changes.

The days of just receiving your renewal and filing it away or letting it sit on the dining room table are over. Each open enrollment period you must review your Part D coverage making sure the Part D plan you choose for the next year fits your needs.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Please feel free to call us at 785-270-4593. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

Medicare Part B

DTS_hands_1 Post-it notesHow well do you understand Medicare, particularly Part B? Do you know the answers to the following questions?

What does Part B cover? While Part A covers hospitalization, Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient services. Like Part A, there are deductibles and coinsurance amounts to consider, based upon the services you have.

Do you have to pay for Part B? Yes. Unlike Part A, when you sign up for Part B you will pay monthly for your coverage. The amount will depend on such factors as your family income and if you signed up at first opportunity. Premiums may be deducted from your social security check, but can also be paid directly or by arranging for an automatic draft from your bank account.

Can I be penalized if I delay or do not take Part B coverage?  YES!  There are penalties if you delay signing up for Part B coverage. Also, by law Medicare is always primary with the one exception below so most other insurance, including most COBRA, will not pay the portion Medicare B would have paid even if you do not have Medicare.

Exception: If you or your spouse have coverage through an employer you may be able to postpone Part B without penalty while you are still actively employed. The good news is that you will still be considered coming in at first opportunity even if you postpone signing up until you (or your spouse) retire. You will then have a short window to sign up before Medicare will penalize you. Technically, Medicare B is optional, but the penalties can make it feel mandatory.

How did you do? Could you respond correctly to all the questions before reading the answers? Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, regardless of whether you enroll in Social Security or continue working (or do both). Medicare Parts A and B are considered Original Medicare. Talk to a Medicare specialist if you have questions about how Medicare may impact you.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

Medicare Part A

DTS_farm_10 SunsetDo you know and understand Medicare? Let’s talk about the first part of Medicare, Part A.  How well do you know it? Check out the mini-quiz below.

1) What does Medicare Part A help cover?

  • Hospital costs
  • Routine dental visits
  • Long term care
  • All of the above

2) How much does Part A cost for most people?

  • $0.00
  • $33.33 per month
  • Depends upon your income
  • Trick question

3) You may not qualify for Social Security until you are 66, but you still qualify for Medicare at age 65.

  •  True
  • False

Medicare Part A is piece of what is known as Original Medicare (which also includes Part B). If you said Part A covers hospital costs, you are right. Part A only covers hospital costs (less deductibles and coinsurance). Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient services, and Part D deals with prescription drugs. Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, covers a combination of B and D and often a few other things as well.

Question two was a trick question, so if you answered anything except the second choice you were correct. 1.65% (or double that amount if you are self-employed) of your salary is paid into the Medicare fund every paycheck during your entire working career. The more you earn, the more you pay in. However, Medicare does not charge recipients of Part A one cent to receive benefits.

Final Answer: True. Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, regardless of whether you enroll in Social Security or continue working (or do both). In fact, certain penalties may apply if you fail to apply for Medicare at your earliest opportunity. Talk to a Medicare specialist for specific details if this may impact you.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.

 

Bringing in the Heat

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Renea Dennison

Growing up I longed for the Dog Days of Summer. Few of us had the luxury of air conditioning, but a cool clothe on the forehead at night helped you drift off to sleep. It was even hotter during the day, but who cared when you could play in the sprinkler and occasionally go swimming in the creek or the pool at the park?

I still enjoy the summer, but now I am much more aware of the health dangers. The truth is that heat kills. Every year more than 600 people die from heat in the U.S. Fortunately, or unfortunately, these deaths are preventable.

The most at-risk group are people over 65, but infants, people who work outdoors, athletes, people with chronic illnesses, and lower income households are all high risk groups too. Finally, pets are also at risk during high heat periods. If you are in one of these groups you are at risk because your activity or health might prevent your body from communicating the danger you are in, or you just might be more susceptible to heat.

Know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion and other heat related health dangers.  Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see the warning signs: (https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html) what to look for and what to do if you have them . READ them and learn them! Pay attention to these signs to avoid serious danger, and seek help immediately if you have any.

Prevent these deadly reactions by staying hydrated, avoiding extreme temperature changes, wearing loose, lightweight clothing, slowing down and staying indoors during the hottest part of the day. Take cool showers or baths to cool down, and try to avoid cooking with the oven or stove top.

Check on your neighbors and family and have them check on you. Share air conditioned spaces (libraries, theaters and malls work) during the hottest part of the day, and make sure pets have water and a shady, cool space.

Heat can kill. Enjoy your summer, but be aware and be safe. It’s good to be a ‘Hottie,’ just be the right kind.

Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.

Go to: http://www.centuryinsuranceagencyks.com or email info@century-health.com for more information.