The start of a new year is the time for resolutions. Railroad retirees covered under Medicare can receive the help they need in making some of their resolutions a reality.
According to USA.gov, the top three New Year’s resolutions are:
- Lose Weight
- Quit Smoking
The year 2015 can be a year of change with the help of Medicare’s coverage of obesity counseling.
All Medicare patients with body mass indexes (BMI) of 30 or more are eligible for counseling if performed in a primary care setting – such as in a doctor’s office. When conducted in a doctor’s office, it can be coordinated with a personalized prevention plan. The patient will pay nothing for this service as long as the primary care provider accepts Medicare assignment. Patients should also ask questions if their doctor recommends other services to be sure that Medicare covers them.
Some of the covered counseling services include one face-to-face visit each week for the first month, one face-to-face visit every other week for months two through six, and then one face-to-face visit every month for the seventh through 12th months, as long as the patient has lost at least 6.6 pounds during the first six months.
Medicare is now covering counseling in a group setting for two to 10 people when conducted by providers in the following categories:
- General practice
- Family practice
- Pediatric Medicine
- Geriatric Medicine
- Nurse practitioner
- Certified clinical nurse specialist
- Physician’s assistant
Medicare is also tackling number three on the list of most popular New Year’s resolutions: quitting smoking. Smoking and tobacco-use cessation counseling is a benefit which offers up to eight face-to-face visits in a 12-month period for patients who have not been diagnosed with a smoking-related illness.
The counselor must be a qualified doctor or other Medicare-approved practitioner. The following resources are available to those considering quitting smoking:
- National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitline (1-800-Quit-Now or 1-800-784-8669)
- http://www.nih.gov – The National Institutes of Health, with a special section on quitting smoking at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/smoking.html
- http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/ – The American Lung Association’s section on quitting smoking
For additional resources on smoking and tobacco cessation, visit Medicare’s webpage at http://www.medicare.gov/coverage/smoking-and-tobacco-use-cessation.html.
If you have questions about Medicare’s coverage of obesity counseling or smoking/tobacco-use cessation, call the Railroad Medicare Beneficiary Contact Center at (800) 833-4455. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET.
Email updates are available on Medicare’s website at www.PalmettoGBA.com/RR/Me. To register, look for ‘email updates’ under the ‘Stay Connected’ part of the lower left-hand side of the webpage.
You may also receive updates through Twitter or Facebook called ‘My RR Medicare’ located at www.facebook.com/myrrmedicare.