David Sayen: Medicare.gov offers wealth of valuable information
January 20, 2014
As 2014 gets under way, I wanted to give you a quick overview of the Medicare information you can now get online.
Our website is Medicare.gov, and it has a wealth of information that you might find helpful.
One terrific feature is our "Compare" websites, which provide quality-of-care information about hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies and dialysis centers in your area.
Take Hospital Compare. This tool has information about the quality of care at more than 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals across the United States.
Hospital Compare gives you a snapshot of the quality of hospitals in your area by allowing you to compare their performance on different quality-of-care measurements.
For example, you'll find information about how often and quickly each hospital gives recommended treatments for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.
You can also learn how each hospital's readmission and death rates compare with the national rate, and how likely patients in that hospital are to suffer complications.
To check out Hospital Compare and our other Compare tools, go to Medicare.gov.
Medicare.gov also lets you search for doctors and other healthcare providers, including medical suppliers, near where you live.
You also can search online for Medicare health and prescription-drug plans in your area.
Just click the "Find health & drug plans" button. You'll see a list of local plans, premium and other cost information, contact information and how many stars the plan received under Medicare's Five Star Rating System.
In addition, Medicare.gov lets you see what Medicare covers, including preventive health services.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, co-pays and deductibles were eliminated for many of the tests, screenings and immunizations that Medicare covers to help you stay healthy.
Preventive screenings for cancer, heart disease and other problems can help detect them in their earliest, most treatable stages.
Another helpful new tool is ourMyMedicare.gov website, which lets you create a secure, online account for accessing personalized information regarding your Medicare benefits and services.
Once you've registered at MyMedicare.gov, you can:
• Complete your "Initial Enrollment Questionnaire" so your Medicare claims can get paid correctly;
• Manage your personal information (such as medical conditions, allergies, and implanted devices);
• Manage your personal drug list and pharmacy information;
• Search for, add to and manage a list of your favorite providers and access quality information about them;
• Track your Original Medicare claims and your Part B deductible status;
• Sign up to get the annual "Medicare & You" handbook electronically. You won't get a printed copy in the mail if you choose to get it electronically.
MyMedicare.gov also features our new Blue Button, which allows you to download your Medicare claims data to your computer or mobile phone.
Why would you want to do that?
Your claims information gives you a better picture of your overall health. This can help you make more informed decisions about your care and can help you give your health care providers a more complete view of your health history. Having your claims data on a computer file makes it easy to share with your doctors, caregivers or anyone else you choose.
I always urge people with Medicare to check their claims and make sure they reflect services they actually received, and were only billed once for.
If you suspect possible fraud or abuse, call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
And if you don't have computer access, just call 1-800-MEDICARE and our customer representatives will help you.
David Sayen is Medicare's regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).