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How much would you pay out-of-pocket for a five day hospital stay on Medicare? The majority of people have no idea! The problem with Medicare is there is too much information. An overwhelming amount of information and not enough resources. Medicare Nation solves that problem by educating you on all things Medicare, because there are not enough resources out there! This podcast will educate you about the components of Medicare, the different categories of Medicare Plans and Medicare benefits. On other episodes I’ll interview expert guests in the health and wellness field, about diseases, Medicare issues and current changes to the Medicare program. Medicare Nation is dedicated to answering all your questions about Medicare. Expert information and insights regarding Medicare and you! Further information can be found on www.callsamm.com Give us feedback on Facebook! www.facebook.com/MedicareNation
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Now displaying: June, 2016
Jun 24, 2016

Welcome, Medicare Nation! My guest today is Dr. Steven Loomis, an optometrist in Littleton, CO. Dr. Loomis is also the president of the American Optometric Association. Did you know that June is Cataract Awareness Month? It’s important to know what cataracts are, how they develop, and how to treat them. Dr. Loomis is here to discuss those topics and others related to general eye health. Join us!

  • Many people don’t understand the difference between an optometrist and ophthalmologist. Can you explain? 
    • Think of an optometrist “like a family doctor for your eyes.” These are medical doctors with four years of undergraduate education and four years of specialization. They deal with eye issues such as blurred vision, diabetes, and glaucoma. Optometrists actually diagnosed 240,000 cases of diabetes in 2014! An ophthalmologist is an eye surgeon who works in conjunction with a patient’s optometrist.
  • We know we need comprehensive eye exams, but how often should we get them, and what is included in that exam?
    • An annual exam is recommended unless there is a condition that warrants more frequent care. Specific tests are included, such as visual acuity, auto refraction, an image of the inside of the eye, visual field, blood pressure, and a check of the pupils. The doctor will also ask questions about medical family history. 
  • What exactly does “20/20 vision” mean?
    • Vision is based on the Snellen Acuity Chart, which was invented by Dr. Snellen over 100 years ago. It is the basic eye chart we are all familiar with that has a series of letters or shapes of certain sizes. The “20 foot” standard has been established, meaning that you see what you should see at a distance of 20 feet. A vision of 20/30 or 20/40 means that you see at 20 ft. what the normal eye sees at 30 or 40 ft. Some people see better than normal, like 20/15. It’s interesting how they measure the 20 feet distance, when most exam rooms are not 20 ft. long. The chart might be 12 ft. away from the patient on the wall, and a mirror is placed 8 ft. behind the patient, to make up the 20 ft. distance.
  • As we age, does 20/20 vision decrease?
    • Yes, unfortunately. It’s completely normal because our eyes age as do other parts of our bodies. As your lens ages, cataracts may form and the retina and cornea lose some functionality.
  • What are “floaters,” and can they clear up?
    • Floaters are very common. They can be seen during an eye exam with dilated eyes. What happens is that the vitreous fluid in the eye, which should be firm, solid, and gelatinous, begins to liquefy as we age. This more liquid substance has fibers in it that appear in our vision as floaters. The good news is that they can clear up; they can shrink, sink, and then we THINK they are gone. If floaters increase or change, then see your optometrist to be checked.
  • What is glaucoma?
    • In short, it occurs when the pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve. Risk factors include family history, racial characteristics, age, and medications. The first symptom is often vision loss. 
  • If glaucoma is indicated, what is the treatment?
    • Medications can control the pressure. Usually eye drops are prescribed once daily and can safely manage the disease.
  • What are cataracts and how are they treated?
    • Cataracts are very, very common and usually show up around age 60. The lens becomes not as clear as it used to be as it loses its clarity and transparency. Exposure to UV rays can cause them, as well as steroids, diabetes, radiation treatments, eye trauma, and eye surgery. The #1 cause? Too many birthdays! There is no treatment needed for early cataracts, but they can worsen to cause hazy vision and nighttime glare. Surgery is the only cure, where the natural lens is removed and an artificial lens is implanted. The good news is that your lens prescription can be incorporated into the artificial lens so your vision is improved on multiple layers. (Tune in to hear a fascinating account of cataract surgery details! Did you know it only takes 5-8 minutes to complete?)
  • How do Medicare benefits factor into cataract surgery?
    • Medicare will pay for a monofocal artificial lens, but the patient can pay for an upgraded lens if desired. Medicare, depending on your plan, will pay a portion of glasses or contacts needed for after surgery.
  • Final words from Dr. Loomis: Keep up with your annual eye exams and discuss options with your doctor when issues arise. Visit www.aoa.org for more information and for their “doctor locator” tool.
  • Question from Eileen in PA: Does Medicare cover eyeglasses? The answer is no, except for what is needed after cataract surgery, and then a portion may be covered under your plan.

 

Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!

I may answer one of your questions on the air!

email me:

support@themedicarenation.com

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)    

Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!

www.CallSamm.com

 

 

 

Jun 18, 2016

Welcome Medicare Nation! Today we’re talking about Shingles. I recently had shingles and my eyes were opened to how painful it is. It’s really a terribly painful illness, so I wanted to give you some facts and tips to help you diagnose your symptoms early.

 

 

 

 

What is Shingles?

 

A virus that is a type of herpes zoster virus. You can only get shingles if you’ve had chicken pox. The virus stays dormant in your spine and attach itself to some of the nerves in your spine. Then something comes along and activates it when you have a lower immune system. If you are on auto-immune suppressing drugs, you are more susceptible to the virus.

 

Increased stress can also trigger an outbreak of shingles.

 

 

 

What are the symptoms?

 

A blistery rash that generally starts around your back and wraps around your side. I got a blister on the palm of my hand. About a week before the outbreak, you can begin having pain from the nerve endings being affected. 

 

Patches of blisters will grow and then they are painful. You can have headaches and other pain that goes along with it.

 

The virus starts coming down your nerve path and it becomes extremely painful. The pain is similar to neuropathy pain.

 

 

 

Treatment?

 

Because I sought treatment within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, I was able to take an anti-viral medication. This caused the pain to being to lessen over the next few days.

 

Anti-Viral medications

 

  • Acyclavir
  • Valacyclavir

 

 

Lidocaine can be given to block the pain.

Advil.,Motrin will also be given to lessen pain.

 

 

 

Anybody can get shingles. More likely to occur in older folks because the immune system is naturally weaker.

 

50% of people over the age of 60 to get shingles.

 

 

Shingles is contagious. It is contagious when the blisters are broken open and oozing. Direct contact with open blisters should be avoided.

 

Shingles Vaccine - given to people 60 and over - Zostavax. There is a 51% chance of not getting the virus when you get the vaccine. 

 

Who should NOT get the vaccine?

-People with allergies to gelatin

  • If you are allergies to neomycin
  • If you have a weekend immune system from AIDS or other illness
  • If you have leukemia or lymphoma
  • If you are pregnant 

 

Info about Shingles Vaccine: 

 

Medicare Advantage plans will require a co-pay. Find out what it costs with your plan by calling customer service with you plan.

 

Original Medicare - you will pay 20%

 

Medigap - you won’t pay anything

 

 

There is no season for shingles. Anyone can get it at any time.

 

You can find out more about shingles here.

 

Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!

I may answer one of your questions on the air!

email me:

support@themedicarenation.com

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)    

Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!

www.CallSamm.com

 

Jun 10, 2016

Welcome, Medicare Nation! I’ve had a busy two weeks and have just returned from a conference in Miami for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. I have been flooded with emails, so today’s episode will be a Q&A session in which I address as many of those questions as possible. Join me!

  • From Steve in Texas: “I’m turning 65 in July and your program has been helpful to me. Can I change Part D prescription options over time without having to pass insurability determinations?”
    • The options can be confusing. You can change Part D plans during the annual enrollment period, from October 15-December 7. You can change plans every year, if needed. You should review your plans yearly, based on your prescription needs and usage.

 

  • From Dottie: “I have a Medicare Advantage Plan with Blue Cross. When I get the benefits summary, do the fees reflect those set by Medicare or do the doctors make these up?”
    • Every Medicare insurance carrier negotiates with each doctor and facility so they have a contract for how much the doctor gets paid for services. The summary shows what the doctor usually charges, what your plan covers, and what your co-pay amount is. What you see is what the doctor normally charges, but NOT what you will pay. The negotiated rate will be applied by your plan and you pay your co-pay or co-insurance.

 

  • From Dottie, the 2nd part of her question: “If I want to change to another Medicare Advantage Plan, can I keep my same doctor even if he isn’t in the network?”
    • Remember, Medicare Advantage is all about being in a network. It’s a “pay as you go” plan because you only pay for what you need. If your doctor is not in network, you have to decide what’s more important. Do you have to stay with that doctor or do you value the plan’s benefits more? You may need to change plans or pay out of pocket. This depends upon if your plan is an HMO or a PPO. A PPO has an out of network option but you will pay a higher co-pay. An HMO in Medicare Advantage doesn’t allow any out of network options.

I hope these questions and answers have been helpful to you. If need be, we’ll add another show each week just to cover your questions. So, keep those coming!  Email me: support@themedicarenation.com. Remember, you can visit www.medicare.gov for more information. 

Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!

I may answer one of your questions on the air!

email me:

support@themedicarenation.com

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)    

Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!

www.CallSamm.com

 

Jun 3, 2016

Welcome, Medicare Nation! Can you believe the month of June is here? The year is rolling right along, and you may not be aware that June is Aphasia Awareness Month. If you’re not familiar with aphasia, you should know that it’s an acquired disorder that affects a person’s ability to speak and to process language, but it does not affect intelligence. Let’s learn more about this disorder.

Here are a few basic facts about aphasia:

  • Often, aphasia is the result of brain injury, brain tumor, neurological disease, or stroke. (25-40% of stroke survivors will have aphasia.)
  • About 2 million Americans are affected by aphasia, with 180,000 acquiring it yearly.
  • Aphasia can affect any age, race, ethnicity, and gender. Those over age 60 have the highest aphasia rates, with those over age 40 being the second highest. The rate of occurrence is the same for all other age groups.
  • Aphasia can’t be cured but can be treated and improved with speech and occupational therapy, and these are covered by Medicare, depending on the plan.
  • Some helpful therapies can be done via an app or on a computer. Many of these costs can be reimbursed, depending on your Medicare plan.
  • Aphasia is self-diagnosable because the signs are noticeable, and may include social isolation, repeated actions/words, and jumbled/slurred speech.

There are several types of aphasia:

  • Global aphasia is the most severe form. It leaves the person unable to speak more than a few words and they can’t understand spoken words or read.
  • Broca’s aphasia has characteristics of reduced speech output, limited vocabulary, but the person can understand language and read.
  • Mixed Non-fluent aphasia makes it hard to speak and limits comprehension. The person cannot read or write beyond the elementary school level.
  • Wernicke’s aphasia leaves the person fluent, where they can grasp the overall meaning of a sentence, but may not comprehend individual word meanings.
  • Primary progressive aphasia is a rare neurological syndrome in which brain tissue degenerates.

To find out more about aphasia, visit the website for the National Aphasia Association: www.aphasia.org. You may contact them via email: naa@aphasia.org or find them on Facebook: Aphasia Recovery Connect.

Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!

I may answer one of your questions on the air!

email me:

support@themedicarenation.com

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)    

Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!

www.CallSamm.com

 

 

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