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Dear Marci,

I just turned 65 and don’t feel like I know very much about what’s covered and what’s not covered under Medicare. How can my doctor help me get the services and care I’m entitled to receive, and how can I be sure her recommendations are in my best interests?

– Noreen (Jonesboro, AR)

Dear Noreen,

Your health care provider is a good source of information about Medicare and key beneficiary services. Speaking with your doctor is an opportunity for you to guarantee that you get every Medicare-covered benefit you are entitled to at the lowest cost. For example, attending your Welcome to Medicare Visit or Annual Wellness Visit and speaking with your doctor about the preventive services you could be eligible for in the coming year helps ensure that you can access free Medicare-covered screenings, counseling, and interventions as appropriate.

You have the right to seek a second opinion or the advice of a doctor other than your regular provider regarding procedures that you are not positive that you need. A second opinion is when a doctor other than your regular doctor gives his or her view about your health problem and how it should be treated. Medicare will pay for you to get a second opinion if your regular doctor recommends that you have surgery or a major diagnostic procedure. A diagnostic procedure – like a mammogram or colonoscopy – is used to help diagnose a disease or condition.

If your doctor says you need surgery to diagnose or treat a problem that isn’t an emergency, you should consider getting a second opinion. A third opinion may also be covered by Medicare if the recommendations of the first and second providers differ regarding the need for surgery. The second and third opinions will be covered even if the surgery or other procedure is not covered by Medicare. If you want a third opinion but the first and second opinions were the same, you may be able to see a third doctor for a “confirmatory consultation.” Medicare may cover the consultation if the third provider submits a claim using the right code and writes in your medical record that the services provided were reasonable and medically necessary.

• If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, your plan may have different rules about second and third opinions. Call your plan to learn the rules for getting second opinions.

• Medicare does not pay for surgeries or procedures that are not medically necessary, like cosmetic surgery.

• Do not wait for a second opinion if you need emergency surgery. Some types of emergencies may require immediate surgery, like appendicitis, blood clots, aneurysms, or accidental injuries.

Having an open dialogue with your providers and their billing offices also creates the space for you to ask questions about services you see on your summary of medical claims. If you are unsure about a claim on your summary of health services, always take that question to your doctor for an explanation.

– Marci

Farmer’s Corner

On Vacation? Tips to Keep Your House Safe, and Secure.

Now that spring is on the horizon people are starting to plan their summer vacations.

Summer vacation means fun in the sun somewhere other than your backyard.

But it’s also prime time for burglars prowling the streets, looking for houses whose owners are out of town on holiday.

Of course, that isn’t the only thing vacationing homeowners have to worry about. Did you know that 49 percent of all lightning insurance claims and more than one-third of claims filed for hail damage each year are made during summer months?

That’s what Farmers Insurance says, anyway, and it suggests some things you can do to avoid unpleasant surprises on your return from that glorious week in the mountains or at the beach.

Unplug anything that doesn’t need to stay plugged in, including televisions and computers.

Schedule a friend or neighbor to stop by the house randomly (to avoid a pattern or anticipated time) to remove boxes from the doorstep, check the mail, and take notices and fliers from the door.

Consider shutting off the water to your washing machine, dishwasher and toilets if you’re going to be away from the house for an extended period of time. This can help prevent nasty, and potentially expensive, shocks when you return.

You can also install wireless leak sensors in flood-prone areas like your laundry room or bathroom, to notify you of leaks before significant damage is done.

Keep expensive and irreplaceable items such as old family photos, artwork, electronics and stamp collections off the ground in case of water damage. Store them up on shelves and/or in waterproof containers.

If you have outdoor furniture, bring glass tables, chairs and umbrellas inside to avoid wind/storm damage to yard items or the exterior of your home.

Avoid posting on social media while away on vacation. If the temptation to post is unavoidable, ensure that all possible security measures are in place on all social sites.

Today’s smart-home technology means that electronics and lights can be controlled remotely, often through an app. Schedule random timers for lights throughout the home, to deter burglars and vandals.

ABC’s of Medicare Insurance Are you or a loved one turning 65 or becoming eligible for Medicare due to a disability? What are Part A and B of Medicare? How do Medicare supplement plans fill coverage gaps? What is a Plan C, Plan F and let’s not forget Part D (prescription drug plan)? Learn about Medicare PPO’s and HMO’s. This two-hour class will help you master the ABC’s of Medicare Insurance.

A B C’s of Medicare Insurance

03/07/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 Raytown School Dist. Community Ed (816) 268-7041

03/11/2017 10 AM – Noon                 Johnson County Community College (913) 469-2323

03/15/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 Excelsior Springs Area Career Center (816) 630-9240

03/28/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 Kansas City Kansas Community College (913) 288-7189

04/11/2017 6:30 -8:30PM                   Independence School Dist. Community Ed (816) 521-5507

(Option 1 & Option 5) OR online

06/17/2017 10:00 AM – Noon           Johnson County Community College (913) 228-7189

06/20/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 Parkhill School Dist. (816) 359-4060

06/24/2017 10:00 AM – Noon           UMKC – Communiversity (816) 235-1448

06/27/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 NKC School Dist. Community Ed (816) 321-5010

06/29/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 Kansas City Kansas Community College (913) 288-7189

10/03/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 NKC School Dist. Community Ed (816) 321-5010

10/05/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 Parkhill School Dist. (816) 359-4060

10/10/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 Raytown School Dist. Community Ed (816) 268-7041

10/12/2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM                 Platte Co. RIII/Northland Career Center (816) 858-5505

10/14/2017 10:00 AM -Noon             Johnson County Community College (913) 469-2323

10/17/2017 6:30 -8:30 PM                  Independence School Dist. Community Ed (816) 521-5507

(Option 1 & Option 5) OR online

10/18/2017 6:30-8:30 PM                   Excelsior Springs Area Career Center (816) 630-9240

10/19/2017 6:30 -8:30 PM                  Longview Community College (816) 604-2030

10/24/2017 6:30-8:30 PM                   Kansas City Kansas Community College (913) 288-7189

10/28/2017 10:00 AM -Noon             UMKC-Communiversity (816) 235-1448

Health Insurance Made Easy

03/02/2017 6:30-8:30 PM                   Kansas City Kansas Community College (913) 288-7189

03/07/2017 6:30 -8:30 PM                  Raytown School Dist. Community Ed (816) 268-7041