Loading...

Follow Florida Blue on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
Blog title
If You Have a Medicare Plan, Learn When to Go to the ER

A health scare can start without warning. You notice stomach pains. You fall and hurt your hip. Or the wrist you thought you simply sprained can no longer move. Nearly one-third of emergency department visits among adults over 65 result from an injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depending on the severity, some of these injuries may be able to be treated at an urgent care clinic. But how do you know when to go to the urgent care clinic or make a trip to the ER?

Urgent care is there to fill the gap between your doctor and the ER. Urgent care clinics stay open after normal business hours. This includes nights and weekends. The ER is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You should visit the ER if you have severe or life-threatening injuries or illnesses. The ER has access to specialists and specific equipment that may be needed.

Depending on how serious your injury or illness is, you could end up waiting a long time to see a doctor in the ER. You’ll also end up paying more for the visit. Check your Medicare health plan’s Evidence of Coverage to find out what you’ll pay at the ER. If you don’t have it handy, you can call our Member Service team to find out what costs you’ll have if you end up in the ER.

When to visit an urgent care clinic:

  • Fever
  • Ear pain
  • Painful urination
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Minor trauma such as a common sprain, minor burns or shallow cut
  • Minor rashes

When to visit the ER:

  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Convulsions, seizures or loss of consciousness
  • Deep wounds
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Moderate to severe burns
  • Poisoning
  • Serious head, neck or back injury
  • Severe abdominal or chest pain
  • Severe difficulty breathing
  • Loss of vision, sudden numbness, weakness, slurred speech, or confusion (signs of stroke)

Check your Medicare health plan’s Evidence of Coverage to find out what you’ll pay at the ER. If you don’t have it handy, click here and scroll down until you find the Evidence of Coverage for your plan. You can also call our Medicare Member Service team to find out what costs you’ll have if you end up in the ER.

Save time and stress: Get ready now in case of an emergency. If you need emergency care, you may not be able to let the medical team know how you’re feeling or what medications you’ve been taking. Take time now to make a plan in case of an emergency. Here are some tips you can use to make your plan.

  • Have at least two emergency contacts in case one cannot be reached.
  • Know the names of your doctors
  • Make a file with your Identification information, list of medications, allergies and insurance information.
  • Make sure your caregiver or loved ones know your medications and have access to paperwork they might need.
  • Ask questions! If you don’t understand something, speak up and get the information you need.
  • Remember, in the event of an emergency call 911.

Sources:

https://www.floridablue.com/blog/when-should-you-head-emergency-room-vs-walk-clinic

www.scripps.org

https://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2018-05-30/the-er-or-urgent-care

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
What You Need to Know About Managing Your Medications

Taking your medicine every day can be hard—and missing a dose happens to everyone. It’s important to take drugs used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol as prescribed and to keep up with your refills. If you struggle with managing your medications, you have options, from having your medicines delivered to you at home to programs tailored to help people who take multiple medications for ongoing health conditions.

Talk to Your Doctor and Pharmacist About Your Medications

It’s important to make sure your primary care doctor and pharmacist know about all of the medications you are taking, even those prescribed by specialists and any over-the-counter medications or supplements you take. Certain medications, vitamins and over-the-counter drugs can interact with each other. These interactions can make your medicines less effective or even cause side effects.

Your doctor or pharmacist can help make sure all the medications you take are safe and work well for you. They can also help you manage any side effects and possibly find cheaper generics.

Getting Help Managing Your Medications

If you have a hard time remembering to take your medicine, you’re not alone! Here are five things you can try that might help you remember to take your meds on time:

  • Pick a specific time of day to take your medicine or set an alarm to help remind you.
  • Post a note in a place where you’re sure to see it —like on the fridge or your bathroom mirror.
  • Order refills at least a week before your medicine runs out. If you use a local pharmacy, they may be able to automatically refill your prescription when you’re due for a refill. Or, ask if they can give you a reminder call when your refill is ready.
  • Use a pill organizer to make sure you take your medications every day.
  • Order a 90-day supply of your medications so you don’t have to worry about getting refills every month.

To have a 90-day supply of your medications mailed to you at no additional cost, call AllianceRx Walgreens Prime at 1-888-211-9028. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also try our newest preferred pharmacy partner, PillPack. PillPack is a full-service online pharmacy that sorts your medications by the dose and delivers them to your door. They make sure you always have the right medication at the right time —at no extra cost to you. Get a 30-day supply of your medications at your normal copay/coinsurance amount.

Each month they deliver:

  • Your medication, including vitamins and over-the-counter medicine, sorted by the dose.
  • Your medications are packaged into easy-to-open packets that fit into a discreet dispenser.
  • Other common pharmacy items, like testing supplies, inhalers and creams.

Medication Therapy Management

Depending on what conditions you have and what medications you take, you may also be eligible to participate in our Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program.

If you qualify for the MTM program, you’ll get to work one-on-one with a pharmacist who will review your medications with you and help with any issues you are having.

Making an Appointment With Your Doctor or Pharmacist

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to talk to your doctor about your medications and any issues you are having. If you have had your visit, call your doctor’s office and ask for help. Also, make sure to ask your pharmacist any questions you have when you pick up your medications.

We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a 3-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.

Source:

https://www.medicare.gov/part-d/coverage/medication-therapy-management/medication-therapy-programs.html

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
What You Need to Know About Managing Your Cholesterol

Almost one in three people in the United States has high cholesterol, which puts you at risk for heart disease. There’s no way to know if you have cholesterol so make sure to ask your doctor to check yours. Certain drugs, called statins, can help lower your cholesterol and protect your heart. Taking a high-dose statin may help. People living with heart disease should also eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise often. To get the most protection, check with your doctor to make sure you are taking the highest recommended dose of statin.

Why You Need to Keep Tabs on Your Cholesterol

Your risk for cardiovascular disease and heart disease only grows as you age. According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of men and women between the ages of 60 and 79 have cardiovascular disease. Among this age group, 20 percent of men and 10 percent of women have coronary heart disease.

High cholesterol increases your risks for developing heart disease or having a stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Even if you feel fine, it’s important to take your cholesterol medicine as directed. If you have high cholesterol, taking medicine can help lower it and may also prevent other health problems like a heart attack or stroke.

If you experience chest pain, or other symptoms of a heart attack, such as weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness or shoulder or abdominal pain, call 911 immediately.

How Much Does Cholesterol Medication Cost?

If your doctor prescribes statins to help control your cholesterol, you may have to pay a copay, depending on your Florida Blue Medicare prescription drug plan. You may also pay a copay for the doctor’s visit and for a blood test to check your cholesterol.

Make sure to ask your doctor if a generic drug is available. Generic drugs usually cost less than their brand name counterparts. You can use generics with confidence. Although they may look different from their brand name versions, generics are safe and effective. A brand-name drug and its generic version must have the same active ingredient, dosage, safety, strength, usage directions, quality, performance and intended use. Generic drugs work in your body in the same way and in the same amount of time as brand-name drugs.

Depending on your income, you also may qualify for Extra Help from Medicare.

What to Know If You're Diagnosed With High Cholesterol 

If your doctor prescribes statins for you, make sure to start with a 30-day prescription. If you tolerate the medication and it works for you, then you can get a 90-day prescription. If it doesn’t work for you, your doctor will prescribe another medication.

Your doctor may also advise you to make some lifestyle changes. Eating healthy, balanced meals and getting physical activity every day can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risks of heart disease, too. Also, if you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Your doctor can help you find a tobacco cessation program or come up with strategies to help you quit.

Here are some more tips to help.

Nutrition: There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (called “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (called “good” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol comes from eating saturated fat, commonly found in meat and other animal products. LDL can form plaque that clogs your arteries. HDL cholesterol, however, can help remove bad cholesterol. So you want your good cholesterol to be high and your bad cholesterol to be low. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and veggies, fiber-rich whole grains and nuts.

Fitness: Our Medicare Advantage plans include Silver Sneakers, which gives you access to gyms and wellness programs across Florida at no extra cost to you. There are more than 14,000 locations offering amenities such as fitness classes, treadmills, weights, pools and more.

You can also check out your local Florida Blue Center. Many of our Florida Blue Centers offer fitness and wellness classes at no extra cost to you.

Your local senior center may also have options to help. Visit this page to find a list of senior centers in Florida by county.

Tips to Help You Remember to Take Your Medicine

If you have a hard time remembering to take your medicine, you’re not alone! Here are five things you can try that might help you remember to take your meds on time:

  • Pick a specific time of day to take your medicine or set an alarm to help remind you.
  • Post a note in a place where you’re sure to see it —like on the fridge or your bathroom mirror.
  • Order refills at least a week before your medicine runs out. If you use a local pharmacy, they may be able to automatically refill your prescription when you’re due for a refill. Or, ask if they can give you a reminder call when your refill is ready.
  • Use a pill organizer to make sure you take your medications every day.
  • Order a 90-day supply of your medications so you don’t have to worry about getting refills every month.

To have a 90-day supply of your medications mailed to you at no additional cost, call AllianceRx Walgreens Prime at 1-888-211-9028. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also try our newest preferred pharmacy partner, PillPack. PillPack is a full-service online pharmacy that sorts your medications by the dose and delivers them to your door. They make sure you always have the right medication at the right time —at no extra cost to you. Get a 30-day supply of your medications at your normal copay/coinsurance amount.

Making an Appointment to Get Your Cholesterol Tested

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about any screenings you need or talk about ways to manage your cholesterol.

If you have had your visit, call your doctor’s office and make an appointment to discuss your concerns. We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a three-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.

Source:

http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/doea/senior_centers.php

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
Florida Teachers Lead: Inspiring Confidence in Future Generations

There are lots of teachers that influenced my life and gave me the confidence to assert myself, to challenge and to ask questions. I remember a particular teacher in high school, Mr. Conklin, who encouraged me to not settle for the status quo and to push the norms. He’s a teacher I thank for his guidance in helping me develop as a young man.

My sister and my sister-in-law are also teachers, and I respect what they do to motivate children every day in their classrooms. Teaching is a job that is truly critical to our society, and it’s also proven to be critical to public health.

Research has shown Americans with more education live longer, healthier lives than those with fewer years in the classroom. And we all know from our own childhoods how influential teachers can be in sparking our desire to learn and further our education.

Great teachers know how to enthuse and connect with their students. They are able to engage and teach by inspiring and challenging. Skillful educators do far more than teach academics. They teach us to become good citizens and members of society.

I’m truly thankful for all our teachers who devote their lives to helping motivate and mold our next generation. 

This is the fourth in a series of blogs sharing Florida Blue’s appreciation for our state’s teachers, who not only educate but also provide guidance and inspiration to our next generation. Florida Blue is a proud supporter of Florida’s Teacher of the Year program, which honors and recognizes excellence in teaching, supports continued learning for all educators and highlights the importance and impact of the profession.

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
What You Need to Know About Hemoglobin A1C Tests

The hemoglobin A1C blood test (HbA1c) measures your average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. The test can be used to diagnose diabetes or tell you if you are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. It’s also an important part of managing your diabetes. It helps your doctor see how well your diabetes is under control.

Why You Need This Test

One in four people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Having an A1C test can help stop or slow the development of diabetes. If you don’t learn to manage your diabetes, you could be harming many important parts of your body including your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels. The good news is that having an A1C tests allows you to monitor your blood sugar and work with doctors to make a plan and get it under control.

How Much Does It Cost?

An A1C test is no cost to you as part of your Florida Blue Medicare health plan. If the doctor does find that your A1C test is not normal you may have a copay or additional costs for specialists or treatment.

What Should You Expect? 

A1C tests require no preparation. You may eat and drink as normal. During the A1C test, a doctor or member of the health care team will take a sample of your blood by inserting a needle into a vein on your arm or taking a finger prick. You may feel some discomfort but the test only takes a few moments. You can return to your daily activities without worry unless told otherwise by a doctor. The blood sample is sent to a lab to be reviewed and results will usually be ready within a week.

The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels have been. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent. If you have an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two different occasions you have diabetes. If your A1C level is between 5.7 and 6.4 percent then you are at a high risk for developing diabetes.

How Do You Make an Appointment?

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about any screenings you need, including the A1C test. Your primary care doctor can tell you where to go to get your blood test.

We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a 3-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.

Why We're Asking You to  Get This Test

Seeing your doctor and getting preventive care is important to you. It’s important to us, too. CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) is the government organization that oversees Medicare Advantage plans like Florida Blue. Similar to how you use stars to rate a restaurant or hotel, CMS uses a five-star quality rating system to measure the experience people with Medicare have with their health plans and health care system.

One of CMS’ most important goals is to improve the health of people with Medicare and the quality of care they receive. CMS uses a measurement system to evaluate the quality of health care you receive. One of the measures CMS looks at is the hemoglobin A1C blood test. If our members who need this test get it, Florida Blue scores better. This helps us improve our Star score. If our Star score is four or above, it means we’re helping our members manage their health. It also helps us improve our benefits for our members.

Healthy Blue Rewards

Depending on your plan, you may be able to earn between $10 and $50 in HealthyBlue Rewards for completing this screening. To learn more about HealthyBlue Rewards, please visit floridablue.com/healthybluerewards

You can earn one reward by getting a hemoglobin A1C blood test each year. Your doctor will help you know when you should be screened. Your doctor will also help you decide how frequently you should be tested. Complete an A1C test anytime between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, to earn a reward.

Note: Plans eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards include BlueMedicare Choice (RPPO), BlueMedicare Select (PPO), BlueMedicare Complete (HMO SNP), BlueMedicare Classic (HMO), BlueMedicare Classic Plus (HMO) and BlueMedicare Premier (HMO).

BlueMedicare Preferred (HMO), BlueMedicare group retiree plan, BlueMedicare Supplement and BlueMedicare Rx (PDP) members are not eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards.

Sources:

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/tests-diagnosis/a1c-test#whatis

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
Controlling Your Cholesterol If You Have Diabetes

People living with diabetes are at greater risk for high cholesterol and heart disease. There’s no way to know if you have cholesterol so make sure to ask your doctor to check yours. Certain drugs, called statins, can help lower your risk and protect your heart. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about what medications are right for you and about how to protect yourself from heart disease.

Why You Need to Control Your Cholesterol With Diabetes

One-fifth of adults over age 65 have been diagnosed with diabetes. This figure doesn’t include all the older adults living with diabetes who don’t yet know it. Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. Uncontrolled diabetes and high blood sugar put you at even more at risk. According to the National Institutes of Health, having diabetes puts you in as much risk for dying from a heart attack as people who have already had a heart attack.

Having diabetes also puts you at risk for a condition called diabetic cardiomyopathy. This condition affects your heart muscle and could stop it from working properly.

Controlling your cholesterol and managing your diabetes can help lower your risks of heart disease and other complications. Even if you feel fine, it’s important to take your cholesterol medicine, if it is prescribed to you. If you have high cholesterol, taking medicine can help lower it and may also prevent other health problems like a heart attack or stroke.

If you experience chest pain, or other symptoms of a heart attack, such as weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness or shoulder or abdominal pain, call 911 immediately.

How Much Does Cholesterol Medication Cost?

If your doctor prescribes statins to help control your cholesterol, you may have to pay a copay, depending on your Florida Blue Medicare prescription drug plan. You may also pay a copay for the doctor’s visit and for a blood test to check your cholesterol.

Make sure to ask your doctor if a generic drug is available. Generic drugs usually cost less than their brand name counterparts. You can use generics with confidence. Although they may look different from their brand name versions, generics are safe and effective. A brand-name drug and its generic version must have the same active ingredient, dosage, safety, strength, usage directions, quality, performance and intended use. Generic drugs work in your body in the same way and in the same amount of time as brand-name drugs.

Depending on your income, you also may qualify for Extra Help from Medicare.

What to Expect If You're Diagnosed With High Cholesterol

If your doctor prescribes statins for you, make sure to start with a 30-day prescription. If you tolerate the medication and it works for you, then you can get a 90-day prescription. If it doesn’t work for you, your doctor will prescribe another medication.

Your doctor may also advise you to make some lifestyle changes. Eating healthy, balanced meals and getting physical activity every day can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risks of heart disease, too. Also, if you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Your doctor can help you find a tobacco cessation program or come up with strategies to help you quit.

Here are some more tips to help.

Nutrition: There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (called “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (called “good” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol comes from eating saturated fat, commonly found in meat and other animal products. LDL can form plaque that clogs your arteries. HDL cholesterol, however, can help remove bad cholesterol. So you want your good cholesterol to be high and your bad cholesterol to be low. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and veggies, fiber-rich whole grains and nuts.

Fitness: Our Medicare Advantage plans include Silver Sneakers, which gives you access to gyms and wellness programs across Florida at no extra cost to you. There are more than 14,000 locations offering amenities such as fitness classes, treadmills, weights, pools and more.

You can also check out your local Florida Blue Center. Many of our Florida Blue Centers offer fitness and wellness classes at no extra cost to you.

Your local senior center may also have options to help. Visit this page to find a list of senior centers in Florida by county.

If you have a hard time remembering to take your medicine, you’re not alone! Here are five things you can try that might help you remember to take your meds on time:

  • Pick a specific time of day to take your medicine or set an alarm to help remind you.
  • Post a note in a place where you’re sure to see it —like on the fridge or your bathroom mirror.
  • Order refills at least a week before your medicine runs out. If you use a local pharmacy, they may be able to automatically refill your prescription when you’re due for a refill. Or, ask if they can give you a reminder call when your refill is ready.
  • Use a pill organizer to make sure you take your medications every day.
  • Order a 90-day supply of your medications so you don’t have to worry about getting refills every month.

You can also opt for home delivery service, which will send up to a 3 month supply of your medicine directly to you. Our Medicare Advantage plans use AllianceRxWalgreensPrime Home Delivery.

You can also try our newest preferred pharmacy partner, PillPack. PillPack is a full-service online pharmacy that sorts your medications by the dose and delivers them to your door. They make sure you always have the right medication at the right time —at no extra cost to you. Get a 30-day supply of your medications at your normal copay/coinsurance amount.

Each month they deliver:

  • Your medication, including vitamins and over-the-counter medicine, sorted by the dose.
  • Your medications are packaged into easy-to-open packets that fit into a discreet dispenser.
  • Other common pharmacy items, like testing supplies, inhalers and creams.

How Do You Make an Appointment?

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about your cholesterol. If you have had your visit, call your doctor’s office and make an appointment to talk about it.

We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a 3-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.
  • We can also tell you about our HealthyBlue Days events where you can get screenings you need and learn more about our HealthyBlue Rewards program, if you are eligible.

Sources:

http://journal.diabetes.org/diabetesspectrum/99v12n2/pg70.htm

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/diabetic-heart-disease

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
What You Need to Know About Controlling Blood Pressure

A blood pressure reading measures the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Your blood travels through your body to supply oxygen and nutrients to your organs and tissue. But when our blood vessels harden, it can make it harder for your blood to move through them, resulting in high blood pressure.

Checking your blood pressure regularly is one of the most important screenings you can get because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms. People with high blood pressure may have a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s why it’s a good idea to see your doctor at least twice a year to make sure your blood pressure is right where it should be, and your treatment plan is working.

Your blood pressure reading is made up of two numbers. The systolic reading is the larger number on top. This number measures the force of your blood going from your heart to your arteries. The smaller number is your diastolic reading. This number measures your heart resting between heartbeats. According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. Any blood pressure reading over 139/89 is considered high blood pressure for people with diabetes.

Why You Need to Check Your Blood Pressure

If it’s not caught and treated early, high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack and other dangerous health problems. Getting an accurate blood pressure reading when you see the doctor is important to catch problems as early as possible.

High blood pressure can often show no symptoms, particularly in the early stages, and can quietly damage your body for years. Once it has elevated, it can become a serious condition, and if left uncontrolled, can lead to various serious complications such as heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.

How Much Does It Cost?

Getting your blood pressure checked should be part of every doctor’s visit, not just with your primary care doctor, but with specialists, too. It’s no cost to you to have this done. You can also get your blood pressure checked at no cost in most grocery stores or at a Florida Blue Center near you.

If your doctor prescribes medications to help control your blood pressure, you may have to pay a copay, depending on your Medicare prescription drug plan. Some generic drugs for blood pressure may be available at no extra cost to you. You may also have to pay a copay for the doctor’s visit.

Make sure to ask your doctor if a generic drug is available. Generic drugs usually cost less than their brand name counterparts. You can use generics with confidence. Although they may look different from their brand name versions, generics are safe and effective. A brand-name drug and its generic version must have the same active ingredient, dosage, safety, strength, usage directions, quality, performance and intended use. Generic drugs work in your body in the same way and in the same amount of time as brand-name drugs.

Depending on your income, you also may qualify for Extra Help from Medicare.

What Should You Expect?

Typically a nurse will take your blood pressure when you get to the doctor’s office. Stress, physical activity and other factors can increase your blood pressure. If you’re rushed into a room and the nurse takes your blood pressure before you have had time to sit down for a minute, your reading might be too high. If this happens, ask to sit for a minute and catch your breath first. Relax. This can help make sure your reading is accurate. If it is still high, ask to be left alone quietly in a room for 45 minutes.

Your nurse will tell you your blood pressure reading as soon as it’s ready. Your doctors will track your blood pressure from visit to visit and will let you know if they see an increase over time.

If your cholesterol is high, your doctor may prescribe a type of medication called statins. If this happens, make sure to start with a 30-day supply of medication. If the medication works after the first month, then ask your doctor for a 90-day prescription. This way you don’t have to go to the drug store as often. You can also choose to get your drugs through mail order.

If you ever have any issues with paying for your medication, talk to your doctor. There are some extremely affordable options when it comes to blood pressure medications

How Do You Make an Appointment?

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about any screenings you need and get your blood pressure checked.

You can also visit your local grocery store or pharmacy and check your blood pressure at a blood pressure machine.

We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a 3-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.

 

Sources:

https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-05-2011/high-blood-pressure-older-adults.html

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/blood-pressure-goals-how-low-should-you-go

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/What-is-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301759_Article.jsp#.WyAXNeyot9A

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
What You Need to Know About Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer screening checks for polyps in your colon or rectum that may develop into cancer. Polyps are common in adults over 50 and most don’t turn into cancer. But some do, particularly a type of polyp called an adenoma. Colorectal cancer screening not only helps doctors catch cancer earlier, when it is easier to treat, but also helps prevent cancer.

Don’t put off this important test any longer.

Why You Need a Screening

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. But with screening, it’s preventable. If doctors find polyps during screening, they can remove them before they become cancerous. If you are scared to get a colonoscopy, don’t worry. You have other options, too. There are different types of colon cancer screenings available; ask your doctor which type of screening is right for you. Some of these tests can be done in the privacy of your home and require no preparation.

How Much Does It Cost?

Colorectal cancer screening is provided at no cost to you as part of your Florida Blue Medicare health plan. However, if your doctor finds polyps during a colonoscopy, you may have to pay a copay to have them removed. Even though you will have a copay for this, it will be easier for you to have the doctor remove them when he finds them. That way you don’t have to go through the procedure twice.

What Should You Expect?

With colorectal cancer screening, you have options, so it depends on what screening you choose.

Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy looks closely at the inside of your entire colon to check for polyps. Doctors use a tube to see inside of you. The test needs to be repeated every 10 years unless you’re at high risk for colon cancer. Then you might need to get one more often. Here’s some other things you need to know:

  • You will have to prepare for your colonoscopy. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions closely. Most likely, your doctor will ask you to limit solid and high-fiber foods in the days before your procedure. You may also have to take laxatives beforehand. Your colon has to be clear for your doctor to see the walls of your colon and rectum.
  • Prior to the procedure, you’ll be given a sedative. The colonoscopy itself only takes about 30-60 minutes. Your doctor will talk to you about to you about what he or she saw after the procedure is over.

Sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy looks at part of your colon (as opposed to the entire colon, like in a colonoscopy). Doctors use a flexible tube to see inside of you. This test needs to be repeated every 4-5 years unless you’re at high risk for colon cancer. Then you might need to get one more often.

The sigmoidoscopy has similar preparation instructions as the colonoscopy. You may need to have an enema before the procedure. But you won’t need a sedative and the test only lasts 10-20 minutes. The test is not painful, but you may feel some cramps.

Your doctor will talk to you about to you about what he or she saw after the procedure is over.

CT colonography: This test looks at the inside of your colon, too. But it uses different technology than a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. First, your colon is filled with air. Doctors then take 3-D images of your colon to look for polyps. This test needs to be repeated every 5 years.

This test is not painful or invasive. But if your doctor does spot an abnormality, you will have to get a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look at the growth and remove it.

FIT (fecal immunochemical test) Kit: The FIT kit is a simple colorectal cancer screening you do in the comfort of your own home—no special food or prep required. You can get it from your doctor or from a vendor Florida Blue contracts with. This test needs to be repeated every year.

For this test, you will have to collect a small amount of your stool at home. You’ll have a collection kit. Once you are done, you will return it to either your doctor mail it to a lab. After your sample is analyzed, you will get the results.

This test is simple and easy. But if your doctor does find an abnormality, you will have to get a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look at the growth and remove it.

Fit DNA: FIT-DNA (also known as Cologuard®) is another test you can take at home. However, unlike other at-home tests that must be repeated every year, this test is recommended every 3 years. 

How Do You Make an Appointment?

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about any screenings you need. Your primary care doctor can help you set up the appointment or tell you who to call.

If you have had your visit, call your doctor’s office and ask for help. They can give you a referral or make contact with a specialist who performs colorectal screening.

We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a 3-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.
  • We can also tell you about our HealthyBlue Days events where you can get screenings you need and learn more about our HealthyBlue Rewards program, if you are eligible.

Why We’re Asking You to Get This Test

Seeing your doctor and getting preventive care is important to you. It’s important to us, too. CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) is the government organization that oversees Medicare Advantage plans like Florida Blue. Similar to how you use stars to rate a restaurant or hotel, CMS uses a five-star quality rating system to measure the experience people with Medicare have with their health plans and health care system.

One of CMS’ most important goals is to improve the health of people with Medicare and the quality of care they receive. CMS uses a measurement system to evaluate the quality of health care you receive. One of the measures CMS looks at is colorectal cancer screening. If our members who need this test get it, Florida Blue scores better. This helps us improve our Star score. If our Star score is four or above, it means we’re helping our members manage their health. It also helps us improve our benefits for our members.

Healthy Blue Rewards

Depending on your plan, you may be able to earn between $10 and $50 in HealthyBlue Rewards for completing this screening. To learn more about HealthyBlue Rewards, please visit floridablue.com/healthybluerewards

You can earn only one reward for colon cancer screening each year. Your doctor will help you know when you should be screened. Your doctor will also help you decide which test is right for you. Complete a colon cancer screening anytime between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, to earn a reward.

Note: Plans eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards include BlueMedicare Choice (RPPO), BlueMedicare Select (PPO), BlueMedicare Complete (HMO SNP), BlueMedicare Classic (HMO), BlueMedicare Classic Plus (HMO) and BlueMedicare Premier (HMO).

BlueMedicare Preferred (HMO), BlueMedicare group retiree plan, BlueMedicare Supplement and BlueMedicare Rx (PDP) members are not eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/prevention.htm

https://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/prepare-for-colonoscopy

https://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/flexible-sigmoidoscopy

https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal/screening-fact-sheet

https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal/screening-fact-sheet

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
What You Need to Know About Checking Your Kidney Function

Getting your kidney function tested is a key part of keeping you healthy if you have diabetes. Diabetes can sometimes damage your kidneys and lead to kidney disease. A test for proteins in your urine (sometimes called a dipstick test) can help your doctors see if you have the disease. A sample of your urine is taken and measured for small amounts of a protein called albumin (the main protein in your blood). Typically, your kidneys filter this protein out. If some of this leaks into your urine, it can be a sign your kidneys aren’t working properly. The test also measures glucose (blood sugar) and ketones, which form when there is not enough sugar to fuel the body.

Why You Need a Urine Test

As you age, your risk for diabetes and kidney disease increases. Around one in four adults with diabetes develop kidney disease. If caught and treated early, kidney disease can be slowed. Your kidneys are important to keep healthy because they filter waste and extra fluid from your blood. The kidneys also help to control water and mineral levels in parts of your body. They also play a key role in creating red blood cells and hormones that regulate blood pressure. If your kidneys stop working properly, waste can buildup in your blood and cause fatigue, weakness, nausea and kidney disease. If your kidneys fail over time, you could face organ failure, dialysis or even need a kidney transplant.

How Much Does It Cost?

A diabetic urine test for protein is provided at no cost to you as part of your Florida Blue Medicare health plan. However, if your doctor suggests other treatment or medication based on your test results, you may end up having additional costs or a copay. 

What Should You Expect?

A urine test is easy, fast and painless. Often urine tests will be given as part of your routine checkup. Before the test, make sure to drink enough water and tell your doctor if you are taking any medications. Some medications may affect the test results. When in a clinic, you will be asked to wash your hands before you are given a clear cup. You will be taken to a private room where you will urinate a little before filling the container. You will fill the cup three-quarters of the way and then wash your hands. Give the container back to your doctor or leave it where they tell you. The doctor will do the rest of the work. They will dip a special strip into the urine that will change colors depending on the level of glucose, ketones and protein in your urine.

If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be asked to do your test from home. When doing a urine test at home, you should do the test in the morning before eating breakfast. You should also empty your bladder once when you wake up and do the test next time you pass urine. You will be given a strip and a color chart to compare the proteins in your urine.

Your results will be given to you the same day you do the urine test or shortly after. Depending on your results, your doctor may suggest further tests or medication.

How Do You Make an Appointment?

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about any screenings you need, including a diabetic urine test for protein.

We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a three-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.

Why We're Asking You to Get This Test

Seeing your doctor and getting preventive care is important to you. It’s important to us, too. CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) is the government organization that oversees Medicare Advantage plans like Florida Blue. Similar to how you use stars to rate a restaurant or hotel, CMS uses a five-star quality rating system to measure the experience people with Medicare have with their health plans and health care system.

One of CMS’ most important goals is to improve the health of people with Medicare and the quality of care they receive. CMS uses a measurement system to evaluate the quality of health care you receive. One of the measures CMS looks at is the urine test for protein. If our members who need this test get it, Florida Blue scores better. This helps us improve our Star score. If our Star score is four or above, it means we’re helping our members manage their health. It also helps us improve our benefits for our members.

Healthy Blue Rewards

Depending on your plan, you may be able to earn $15 in HealthyBlue Rewards for completing this screening. To learn more about HealthyBlue Rewards, please visit floridablue.com/healthybluerewards

You can earn a reward for completing a diabetic urine test for protein each year. Your doctor will help you know when and if you should be screened. Your doctor will also help you decide if you should be tested in a clinic or at home. Complete a diabetic urine test for protein anytime between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, to earn a reward.

Note: Plans eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards include BlueMedicare Choice (RPPO), BlueMedicare Select (PPO), BlueMedicare Complete (HMO SNP), BlueMedicare Classic (HMO), BlueMedicare Classic Plus (HMO) and BlueMedicare Premier (HMO).

BlueMedicare Preferred (HMO), BlueMedicare group retiree plan, BlueMedicare Supplement and BlueMedicare Rx (PDP) members are not eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards.

Sources:

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-kidney-disease

https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneytests

https://www.kidney.org/news/monthly/wkd_aging

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog title
What You Need to Know About Bone Mineral Density Testing

A bone mineral density test uses an X-ray or heel ultrasound to see how dense or thick your bones are. The test also checks to see if you are at risk for osteoporosis. When you have osteoporosis, your bones get weak and thin. It’s sometimes called a silent condition because you feel no symptoms. Without a bone mineral density test, you may not know you have osteoporosis until you break or fracture a bone.

Why You Need One

Osteoporosis can cause thin bones that can easily break. The risk for osteoporosis is common and increases with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoporosis affects one in four women over 65 and one in 20 men over 65. Osteoporosis is more common in women after menopause due to a decrease in the hormone estrogen. Luckily, it’s easy to treat and prevent. Calcium, vitamin D, exercise and osteoporosis medications can help keep your bones strong. Look for common signs of osteoporosis such as backache, gradual loss of height and bone fractures. Although it is more common in women, it is important for everyone to be tested.

How Much Does It Cost?

A bone mineral density test is provided at no cost to you as part of your Florida Blue Medicare health plan. If your doctor suggests additional treatment or testing, you may end up with a copay or additional costs.

What Should You Expect?

No preparation is required for the bone mineral density test. You may be able to wear your clothes, but you could be asked to change into a gown provided by the clinic. The bone mineral density test is quick and painless. A low dose X-ray may be taken to check how dense or thick your bones are. The X-ray measures how much calcium and minerals are in parts of your bones. Common places that are X-rayed include the spine, hip, wrist, finger, kneecap, shin and heel. Instead of an X-ray, your provider may give you an ultrasound of your heel to measure your bone density. The more minerals you have, the better. If you have more minerals, then you have stronger bones that you are less likely to break or facture.

Your test results should be ready within two weeks, and you will be shown two scores:

T-score: This score is used to estimate your risk for a bone fracture. The number shows the amount of bone you have compared to a young adult with a healthy bone mass. A score above  -1 is considered normal. A score between -1 and -2.5 is considered to be low bone mass. A score below -2.5 is considered to be osteoporosis.

Z-score: This number shows the amount of bone you have compared to other people in your age group who are the same sex as you. If the score is too high or too low, you may need more tests. Your doctor will tell you what is right for you.

Why You Should Get This Test

Seeing your doctor and getting preventive care is important to you. It’s important to us, too. CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) is the government organization that oversees Medicare Advantage plans like Florida Blue. Similar to how you use stars to rate a restaurant or hotel, CMS uses a five-star quality rating system to measure the experience people with Medicare have with their health plans and health care system.

One of CMS’ most important goals is to improve the health of people with Medicare and the quality of care they receive. CMS uses a measurement system to evaluate the quality of health care you receive. One of the measures CMS looks at is the bone mineral density test. If our members who need this test get it, Florida Blue scores better. This helps us improve our Star score. If our Star score is four or above, it means we’re helping our members manage their health. It also helps us improve our benefits for our members.

Making an Appointment

If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about any screenings you need. Your primary care doctor can help you set up the appointment or tell you who to call.

If you have had your visit, call your doctor’s office and ask for help. They can give you a referral or make contact with a specialist who performs bone mineral density testing.

We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
  • We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a three-way call.
  • If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.

Healthy Blue Rewards

Depending on your plan, you may be able to earn HealthyBlue Rewards for completing this screening. To learn more about HealthyBlue Rewards, please visit floridablue.com/healthybluerewards

Complete the bone mineral density test anytime between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, to earn a reward.

Note: Plans eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards include BlueMedicare Choice (RPPO), BlueMedicare Select (PPO), BlueMedicare Complete (HMO SNP), BlueMedicare Classic (HMO), BlueMedicare Classic Plus (HMO) and BlueMedicare Premier (HMO).

BlueMedicare Preferred (HMO), BlueMedicare group retiree plan, BlueMedicare Supplement and BlueMedicare Rx (PDP) members are not eligible for HealthyBlue Rewards.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/bone-mineral-density#1

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/osteoporosis.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/features/osteoporosis/

https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=dexa

Display Share this widget
Yes
Blog author list Blog spanish alert message
No
Display blog on home page
Yes
Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview