where you can get quick tips on how to prevent Medicare scams.
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Help Protect Young Children’s Identities
Older Iowans often read articles about how to protect their health and finances but most of us don’t want to focus all our thoughts just upon ourselves. This article is a little different; it gives you a chance to share some important information with your loved ones about protecting your grandchildren or other youngsters that are dear to you.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced their new publication, “Safeguarding Your Child’s Future.” They begin with the following statements. “Parents do a lot to protect their children from physical harm, from teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street to making sure they’re dressed warmly for a snowy day. Protecting their personal information is important, too.”
The FTC reminds parents to keep their child’s personal information in a secure place and advises against routinely carrying the child’s Social Security card with them. They mention to make sure your child’s information is safeguarded at school. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records; parents should be certain to read the notices schools give about these rights. It is important to know how to remove personal information from computers, cell phones and other electronic devices when they are disposed. The publication contains information about safe computer use and cautions about social media (like Facebook) and peer to peer software (don’t worry if you don’t know about this – they will!).
For these and many other tips, direct your loved ones who care for children, to the FTC website at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/data/child.shtm
June, 2012 Disgusted with Recorded Telemarketing Calls?
There is no better time than today to go to your phone or computer to register your phone number on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Do Not Call” Register. The reason………… soon you will be able to avoid those annoying recorded telemarketing messages, also known as “robocalls.” You know the kind. You answer the phone, there’s usually a pause and then the fake-sounding recorded voice comes on with the sales pitch. Or perhaps worse, you come home, check your phone messages and find a LONG message from one of these prerecorded sales calls.
In early 2013, a new restriction will be in effect, making these calls illegal unless you have given written consent to receive them. There is a similar rule already but there are exceptions allowed for banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and in-state telemarkerters. The sooner you get your phone number registered with the FTC, the better.
Call the FTC at 1-888-382-1222 or visit online at www.donotcall.gov/register/reg.aspx.
June, 2012 Social Security Statement Now Available Online
Persons of any age who are still working should check the Social Security Statement that confirms the annual amount of wages or self-employment posted to their personal record. Even if you are already receiving Social Security retirement benefits, there are some circumstances when earnings may increase your benefits. If you are not receiving retirement benefits yet, you should make certain you are receiving credit for all your earnings. When you get ready to apply for retirement benefits you don’t want to be surprised by a lower benefit due to earnings missing from your record. Social Security is a HUGE system which relies upon the accuracy of reports from employers and tax returns for millions of workers. Mistakes can happen and they are much easier to correct sooner rather than later.
This statement can also give you information about benefits for your spouse and dependents if you die, things to consider as your draw closer to retirement age, and an estimate of your benefit amount. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov to look for the “statement.” You will be asked to create a “my Social Security” account by confirming identifying information and creating a user name and password.
June, 2012 Be a Careful Consumer: Use Medicare’s “Quality Care Finder”
Medicare has just unveiled a new tool you can use to view how patients of home health care agencies rate the care they received. The “Quality Care Finder” shows survey results from Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers about the home health care agencies from which they received services. You can read information about opinions of the overall care provided, the effectiveness of communication, whether care was provided in a courteous and respectful way, and whether the agency adequately discussed the patient’s medications, safety and level of pain. If you or a loved one need home health care, it may be a new and mystifying experience for you. Be sure to take advantage of information that’s available to help you decide who should provide your care.
Go to www.Medicare.gov and look for “Patient Survey Results Help You Choose a Home Health Agency.”
Understanding Your Medicare Summary Notice
When Your Doctor is Part of a Hospital Owned Clinic
SMP advised you to look for errors in Medicare payments and we often give the example of Medicare paying for the same service twice. How many times have you heard there’s an “exception to the rule?” Here’s another one!
Hospitals that own physician practices and outpatient clinics and which meet specific Medicare regulations, may send Medicare two claims, each time you receive services from one of their physicians. One claim is submitted for the professional services of the doctor. The second claim is submitted for the “facility charge;” these charges represent the cost of office space and medical equipment and supplies that are provided by the hospital, for the physician’s use while treating or examining you.
Let’s consider an example of what your Medicare Summary Notices would look like. Your doctor works for XYZ Clinic which is owned and operated by XYZ Hospital. You see your doctor on Oct. 30, 2009 for a routine visit to check on your heart condition. You are covered by the traditional Medicare (not a Medicare Advantage plan) and in this example, your doctor accepts assignment of the Medicare payment for the services.
• One Medicare Summary Notice is for “Part B Medical Insurance – Assigned Claims” and shows the name of XYZ Hospital and your doctor’s name for an office/outpatient visit on Oct. 30.
• Second Medicare Summary Notice is for “Part B Medical Insurance – Outpatient Facility Claims” and shows the name of XYZ Hospital and your doctor’s name and also states charges for office/outpatient visit on Oct. 30.
If your doctor is part of a system that has “provider based” status with Medicare, payment can be made on both of these claims. If you are receiving two Medicare Summary notices for each doctor visit and you are not sure that your doctor’s office has “provider based” status, you should call your doctor’s office to ask. This helps assure you that Medicare is making correct payments for your healthcare and that money is not being lost on incorrect payments. You may also be interested to know that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is studying this Medicare regulation to determine if it costs beneficiaries and the Medicare program more than is appropriate.
If you ask for information from your doctor or hospital and cannot obtain all the information you need, you can call SMP at 1-800-423-2449.
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