Archive for September, 2017

10/17/17 Medicare 101 Live Chat Transcript

The Annual Open Enrollment period for 2018 Medicare coverage began on October 15th. Our live chat was a great opportunity to learn the A, B, Cs…and Ds…of Medicare. Topics included:

  • Overview of Medicare Parts A, B, C and D
  • Explaining Medicare Advantage
  • Differences between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage
  • Turning 65 and applying for Medicare
  • How Medicare works if you’re turning 65 but don’t plan to retire

The live chat had a good turnout and the transcript is now available below.

Live Chat Transcript

Oct 17, 11:58 AM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Hi everyone, we’ll get started shortly!

Oct 17, 12:01 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Welcome everyone! Thanks for joining us today for our web chat about Medicare 101.

Oct 17, 12:01 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Please note that all questions are moderated before appearing in the stream, so you may not see yours appear right away, but we will do our best to answer all your questions today.

Oct 17, 12:02 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): We received some questions that were submitted in advance of the chat, so we’ll get started by answering a few of those first.

Oct 17, 12:03 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Q: How does my current health impact my Medicare coverage?

Oct 17, 12:04 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): A: Your health will have no bearing on your eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B. If your question pertains to joining a Medicare plan, there are different criteria to follow. If joining a Medicare Advantage Plan, the only qualifying health question is whether you have End Stage Renal Disease (kidney failure). Otherwise, if you live in a Medicare Advantage plan’s service area, and you have Medicare Part A and Part B, you cannot be declined coverage due to health.

Oct 17, 12:04 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): If you are considering a Medicare supplement plan, each Medicare supplement has a different set of health-related questions you must answer in order to qualify for coverage. If you are joining a Medicare supplement plan within 6 months of going onto Medicare Part B, you are in the Medicare supplement open enrollment period, and cannot be declined coverage.

Oct 17, 12:04 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): For more information on these important Medicare enrollment dates or to compare the Medicare plans accepted by Emory Healthcare, please call the Emory Medicare Insurance Helpline serviced by MedicareCompareUSA at (855) 256-1501. You can also learn more by visiting

Oct 17, 12:05 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): The next question we received ahead of time was: How do I sign up for Medicare and when do my benefits begin?

Oct 17, 12:07 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): You can sign up for Medicare by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), online at or by going to your local Social Security office.

Oct 17, 12:08 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. This window of time can also be used to choose a Medicare insurance plan (such as a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan).

Oct 17, 12:09 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Generally, if you choose to activate your Medicare benefits when you first become eligible to do so, you will become Medicare eligible on the first day of the month you turn 65 (it may be up to 2 months later if you wait to sign up for Medicare on the month of your 65th birthday, so plan ahead). There are some exceptions to this, including but not limited to becoming Medicare eligible due to disability or having your Medicare coverage through your spouse

Oct 17, 12:11 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Next question: What is the difference between a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage plan?

Oct 17, 12:12 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Good question. The first thing to understand is that a Medicare supplement is designed to fill the gaps of original Medicare. Original Medicare is made up of Medicare Part A (Hospitalization) and Medicare Part B (Medical Services). Original Medicare has deductibles and co-insurance the beneficiary is responsible for. Original Medicare also does not cover prescription medications. This is why many people on original Medicare purchase a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) to fill the gaps of Medicare…

Oct 17, 12:12 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): …and they may also purchase a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Medicare Part D).

A Medicare Advantage plan is a private Medicare Plan that has a contract with the government (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). The Medicare Advantage Plan benefits must be at least comparable to original Medicare.

Oct 17, 12:13 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): In addition, many Medicare Advantage Plans feature additional benefits beyond what is covered by original Medicare, and Medicare Advantage Plans often include a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Medicare Part D) for no additional charge.

Oct 17, 12:13 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): There is no one Medicare insurance solution that is right for everyone. For more information visit, attend an Emory Medicare Educational Seminar or call the Emory Healthcare Medicare Insurance Helpline, serviced by MedicareCompareUSA at (855) 256-1501.

Oct 17, 12:14 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Let’s move on to your live questions now!

Oct 17, 12:15 PM
Guest7028 (Guest): How much does Medicare cost?

Oct 17, 12:19 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): There are two parts of Medicare, hospital, Part A and medical services, Part B. Part A, you earn these benefits by contributing to Medicare through payroll deduction for 10 years. Part B, there’s an additional monthly premium, usually $134 a month or more, depending on income.

Oct 17, 12:21 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Most people with Medicare either join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Plan. These plans generally have an additional monthly premium beyond the Medicare Part B premium. Lastly, there are Medicare perspiration drug plans that are either purchased separately or they are included in the Medicare Advantage coverage.

Oct 17, 12:22 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): *prescription*

Oct 17, 12:22 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): For more information, please call our Medicare Insurance Helpline at 1-855-256-1501, M–F, 9am_7pm EST.

Oct 17, 12:23 PM
Guest5996 (Guest): What’s the difference between an HMO & PPO & regular Medicare? Do you find your physician office find one option easier to work with than another?

Oct 17, 12:24 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): A Medicare Advantage PPO refers to a “Preferred Provider Organization”. Under a PPO, members receive the lowest member cost-sharing when they use a plan’s network providers. Under a PPO, a member is permitted to go outside of the network, however, member cost-sharing is generally higher. Alternatively, a Medicare Advantage HMO refers to a “Health Maintenance Organization.”

Oct 17, 12:25 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Under an HMO, members must generally use network providers for all health care services other than emergency and urgent care situations. HMOs also normally require a referral from member’s Primary Care Provider before seeing any Specialists.

However, there are some HMOs that include a “Point of Service” benefit that enables the member to also see non-network providers in certain instances.

Oct 17, 12:29 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): From a healthcare provider perspective, the most important thing is choosing a Medicare plan that your provider is contracted with. The choice of an HMO or PPO comes down to the consumer’s specific needs and preferences. By choosing either an HMO or PPO that your physician and hospital is contracted with will allow you to achieve the best coordination of care and the lowest out of pocket expense.

Oct 17, 12:33 PM
tammy (Guest): How does Medicare automatic renewal work?

Oct 17, 12:34 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): tammy – Can you please clarify if your question pertains to Medicare coverage or your Medicare insurance.

Oct 17, 12:34 PM
Jan (Guest): Does medicare pay for home health aids?

Oct 17, 12:39 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Based on your physicians suggested treatment plan, if home health is necessary for rehabilitation, Medicare generally covers the cost of home health. However, the key to that is a consumer needs to be recuperating from an illness or injury, as Medicare home health does not cover chronic health needs in perpetuity.

Oct 17, 12:42 PM
AnnaZ (Guest): How do I report medicare fraud?

Oct 17, 12:43 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Call 1-800-Medicare or the Office Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477.

Oct 17, 12:46 PM
JJ21 (Guest): I’m disabled. When can I get Medicare?

Oct 17, 12:49 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Eligibility for Medicare due to disability requires the individual to be receiving social security disability benefits for 24 months or have end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Oct 17, 12:51 PM
Guest9622 (Guest): can i have cobra and medicare at the same time?

Oct 17, 12:51 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): If you have COBRA and become Medicare eligible, you should enroll in Part B immediately because you are not entitled to a special enrollment period (SEP) when COBRA ends.

Oct 17, 12:52 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): These questions have been great! We have time for just one more question today.

Oct 17, 12:53 PM
Jan (Guest): Does Medicare cover vision?

Oct 17, 12:56 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Medicare part B covers some vision care, but not routine vision exams. You are not covered for vision correction such as eyeglasses or contact lenses under Medicare Part B unless you need correction after cataract surgery. Many Medicare Advantage plans provide additional vision care, such as annual eye exams, and in some cases, an annual allowance for prescription eyewear.

Oct 17, 12:58 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): To learn more about Medicare Advantage plans accepted by Emory Healthcare please call 1-855-256-1501 or visit

Oct 17, 12:58 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): That’s all the time we have for today. Thanks so much for joining us and thanks for your questions!

Want to Learn More?

We understand how confusing Medicare can be. There are many different types of Medicare insurance available, including Medicare Advantage, Supplements, and Prescription Drug plans. There are dozens of insurance companies offering Medicare insurance and to further complicate matters, healthcare providers do not accept all Medicare plans.

In coordination with MedicareCompareUSA, we are pleased to offer the Medicare Insurance Helpline; a free and unbiased resource for comparing and enrolling in Medicare plans accepted by Emory Healthcare providers. The Medicare Insurance Helpline gets you connected with Emory Healthcare’s Medicare resources.

For more information, please call toll-free 1-855-256-1501 or visit

Back-to-School Bugs & Beyond: Know Where to Go

Back to school bugsBack-to-school bugs mean your kids may soon be coming home sniffing, sneezing or showing other signs of battling a “bug”?

Your kid’s classroom can be just the kind of enclosed space that makes a great breeding ground for viruses and bacteria to multiply and spread. According to the CDC, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) elementary school children catch eight to 12 colds or cases of flu each school year.

Back-to-School Bugs

Back-2-school brings kids back in touch with lots of other kids. It can be a stressful time even for kids who have the healthiest immune systems. Children returning to school may be exposed to:

  • Colds, cold sores, coughs
  • Pink eye
  • Stomach bugs

You can prepare your kids for battling any back to school bugs by strengthening their immune systems. Here’s how:

  • Get your kids back on a good sleep schedule
  • Boost diets with Vitamin C rich fruits & veggies
  • Make sure they stay hydrated

Healthy Habits

  • Hand washing: The best way for your child to stay healthy at school is to practice good hand washing. Teach your child to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. That’s how you know they’ll be washing for at least twenty seconds. And, your child should use soap. It’s more effective than hand sanitizers.
  • Clean water: Arm your child with a water bottle and teach him this is one thing that should never be shared. Hydration is important but drinking fountains can be hot zones for germs. They aren’t cleaned and disinfected as often as school bathrooms are. If your child does use the water fountain, they should let the water run before drinking and keep their mouths from touching the fountain.
  • Healthy Manners: Teach your child to always cough or sneeze into an elbow.

Fall Allergy Alert

Here in Atlanta, ragweed pollen blooms in August and is at its peak in September. In addition to ragweed, tree pollens can also be blamed for fall allergies.

If your child suffers from allergies, prepare for back to school by pretreating with allergy medication before the peak of pollen season.

Symptoms of fall allergies include:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and scratchy throat
  • Post-nasal drip, runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sneezing

Learn more about allergies here.

Know Where to Go When It’s Not Life Threatening

Primary care physician, family doctor, or pediatrician: If your child does come down with a bug or an infection, start out by seeing your pediatrician, family doctor or PCP. They are already familiar with your child and know their health history best.

If you can’t get an appointment at a time that works for you, or your doctor’s schedule is all booked up, don’t stress. You have options.

MinuteClinics and Urgent Care centers are good alternatives if you need to see a health care provider sooner than you can see your PCP, or if you need care outside of your PCPs normal office hours. MinuteClinics can treat many minor illnesses and injuries and prescribe medications. Urgent care centers can treat serious, but not life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Unfortunately, playground accidents and back to school injuries can happen. In addition to bumps and bruises, your child might show signs of an urgent condition. Go to the ER for urgent conditions including:

  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain
  • Fainting, dizziness, weakness or lack mobility
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Broken bones that break through skin
  • Severe or persistent diarrhea or vomiting
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Poisoning
  • Head or neck injury
  • Suspected concussion

If you take your child to the ER, have key information ready for the nurse or doctor. Keep track of when symptoms started, how they progressed, how long a fever or rash has lasted, how often your child has gone to the bathroom, any medications, who they’ve been in contact with and any other health concerns. Bring water, snacks and a toy for your child.

Contact Us

If you’re not sure if a trip to the ER is needed, call your family doctor or the Emory HealthConnection nurses at 404-778-7777*

*Business hours: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., EST. Monday–Friday


About Dr. Colovos

Nick Colovos, MD, received his degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1993 and completed his residency in emergency medicine at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Toledo Ohio in 1996. His work experiences in the academic, public and private sectors of medical care have allowed him to develop a unique perspective on the business of healthcare and its delivery to patients. He currently serves as Medical Director for the Emory Healthcare Urgent Care and MinuteClinic Strategy and Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, Georgia.

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