Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tips to avoid Medicare card scams


Medicare has been mailing new Medicare ID cards to Washington state beneficiaries since September and scammers are taking advantage of this opportunity to commit fraud.

The cards have a new look but, most importantly, they have unique numbers to replace the Social Security numbers previously used on the cards. Medicare created the new cards to reduce identity theft and fraud. 

Here’s what a scammers may say when calling Medicare beneficiaries (note: none of these is true!):
  • Ask for your bank account information so you can pay for your new Medicare card. 
  • Ask you to confirm or give your personal information to get your new card. 
  • Ask for your old Medicare number (which was your Social Security number) to prevent your Medicare coverage from being interrupted. 

Facts about the new Medicare cards

  • They are FREE! You do NOT pay for your new card and you don’t have to do anything to get it. Medicare will automatically mail your new card to you. You can sign up to get an email from Medicare to know when to expect your card in the mail. 
  • You do NOT need to give any personal information to get your new card. The cards are mailed to the address you have on file with Social Security. You can update your address online, call 1-800-772-1213, or visit your local Social Security office. 
  • Your Medicare coverage will NOT be interrupted or stopped because your new card’s being mailed to you. 
  • In general, Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask for your personal information, or to get your new Medicare Number and card. 

What to do if you get a call

If you receive a call or email that seems suspicious, do not share any information. Hang up and call our Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) at 1-800-562-6900 to report the incident.

In addition to providing free, unbiased help with your Medicare options, SHIBA is Washington state’s Senior Medicare Patrol project. We help clients prevent, detect and report Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Diabetes & health insurance: What you should know

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and there are a lot of reasons to be aware of this disease. Worldwide, 425 million adults have diabetes – that’s one in 11 people. Another 212 million people remain undiagnosed – or 1 in 2 people.

Health insurance subject to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicare are required to pay for diabetes screenings and other preventive services in full, without cost-sharing. If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, the ACA prevents insurance companies from denying you coverage based on having a pre-existing condition.

Washington state law goes further and requires health insurers to cover the following:
  • Insulin 
  • Syringes 
  • Injection aids 
  • Blood glucose monitors 
  • Test strips for blood glucose monitors 
  • Visual reading and urine test strips 
  • Insulin pumps and accessories to the pumps 
  • Insulin infusion devices 
  • Prescriptive oral agents for controlling blood sugar levels 
  • Foot care appliances for prevention of complications associated with diabetes 
  • Glucagon emergency kits
Find more information about diabetes:
If you believe you’ve been denied coverage for a preventive diabetes screening, diabetes treatment, or diabetic supplies, you can talk to an insurance expert or file a complaint.




Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quitting smoking can improve your health insurance premiums


Today is the Great American Smokeout and now is a great time to stop smoking and using nicotine products to avoid the nicotine surcharge for your 2019 health insurance.

Health insurers are allowed to charge smokers 50 percent higher premiums than nonsmokers. That’s because smokers' health care costs tend to be higher than those of nonsmokers.  

To help you kick the habit, the Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover FDA-approved smoking cessation services such as counseling and medication as a preventive benefit, which means consumers have no out-of-pocket costs. 

Here are some tips from the Great American Smokeout for how to quit using tobacco products:
  • Quitting smoking isn’t easy. Have a plan for how you will live a smoke-free life.
  • You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Start with day one.
  • How to quit smoking or using tobacco

There are immediate and long-term benefits to quitting smoking, beyond paying less for health care (and saving money you’ve been spending on cigarettes or nicotine products). 


Nearly 38 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths every year, about 1 in 5 deaths. And more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.