If you don't know these new scams identified by the FCC, you could be a target!
At this point, everyone has probably received a scam call or two and, by now, you probably have an awareness of how some of them operate. For example, someone impersonates your credit card company or the IRS in order to get your personal information, or an automated voice tries to get you to say “yes” so your recorded response can be used as a voice signature for fraudulent activity involving your financial information. To make matters worse, scammers are only getting trickier and casting wider nets with newer scams. That’s why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently created a “Scam Glossary” to alert people to the many scams out there—and explain how to avoid them. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself.
The “809 Scam” –
If you receive a call from a number with an “809” area code, it might appear to be coming from the United States, but it’s not. Such calls typically originate from another country—the Dominican Republic, to be exact. The caller will leave an urgent voicemail for you, and when you call back, he or she will try to keep you on the line for as long as possible in order to make you rack up large international charges. Another problematic three-digit area code is “232”, which goes to Sierra Leone. The best action to take here is to simply not answer the phone when you’re getting a call from a strange number—and especially a strange area code.
The “Utility Scam” –
This scam often targets the elderly, Hispanic communities, and anyone else they think are vulnerable to aggressive confrontation. They use scammers who pose as utility-company employees calling to request immediate payment or they will shut off service. The payment is most often requested through a prepaid card rather than a credit card so the charge can’t be contested. If you receive this type of call, you should contact your utility company directly to discuss your account rather than making a payment with this person over the phone.
The “Auto-warranty Scam” –
Many people often don’t know quite when their car warranty or insurance expires which is what makes this scam so universal. Here, the caller will impersonate your insurance company or pretend to be selling an auto-warranty service. But the problem is that in some cases, the scammer may have acquired information about your existing policy in order to make the request sound more credible. The goal of this scam is to get your credit card information. In short, never give you’re your information. Instead, it’s always a good idea to call warranty services companies or insurance companies yourself rather than making purchases through an unsolicited phone call. In general, your car is a magnet for scammers.
The “Neighbor-spoofing Scam” –
If you receive a call from a telephone number that looks almost identical to your own, it's likely a scam. “Neighbor spoofing” is when someone calls from a number that has the same initial digits as your own, leading you to believe that it is someone local when it is, in fact, really a scammer. If you answer, they will try to get personal information or money from you using one fraudulent representation or another like the "local law enforcement society needs your support" or "there's nothing wrong with your credit card account, but we need to talk with you".
The “Jury-duty Scam” –
Is there a warrant out for your arrest because you missed jury duty? That’s what this scammer will claim while pretending to be a member of law enforcement. The script will go something like this: they’ll tell you that you’ve “missed jury duty” and are subject to jail unless you pay a fine by wiring money or using a gift card. Rest assured, this is a scam. The authorities will never ask you to pay a fine by using a gift card. Your best response is to have them give you the name of the courthouse from which they are calling and a number where you can reach them. They probably won’t so you can then just hang up.
Smishing is short for “SMS phishing,” and for this one, you’ll be getting a text, not an actual phone call. In the text, the person will claim you have just "won a prize", or "your reservation needs to be confirmed" (even though you haven't made one) or, they claim to be from your bank or auto insurance company and provide a link for you to click on. When you do, the scammer will attempt to trick you out of money or your personal information. Bottom-line, do not respond to any strange texts.
The “Health-insurance Scam” –
For these scams, you’ll get a “robocall” which is an automated call with a recorded message asking you to “press 1” to “talk with a representative”. This is done so the scammer knows a real person has answered the phone and its not just an answering machine. Or, you will get a call directly from an actual person claiming to work for a health-insurance company. They’ll say they can get you discounted insurance, which often involves a “medical discount card” (which you must pay for) that ends up not being accepted anywhere. While this scam happens quite a bit during the Medicare open enrollment season, it can occur year-round. Most of these calls are illegal, and you can file a complaint with the FCC if you get one of these calls.
The “Tech-support Scam” –
You will get a telephone call which says, “Warning: Your computer has been infected with a virus!” After this lead-in, instead of removing the alleged virus, the person on the phone will walk you through a process that places a virus on your computer. And you must pay before they give you the instructions which is like being duped twice. Just how common is this scam? Microsoft has estimated that around 3.3 million people are scammed each year, leading to an annual cost of $1.5 billion and an average loss of more than $450 per individual. Remember – real computer and computer program companies do not make these kinds of calls. They will either email you directly or, send you a notification in the mail instructing you to contact them directly.
The “Recovery Scam” –
This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’ve already fallen victim to a scam, don’t believe it when someone different calls and attempts to tell you they can help you recover money from the original scam. These callers are typically from the same scam outfit as the original scam. They will offer to help, for a fee, but that “help” results in scamming that same person again.
The “Back-to-school Scam” –
Like all scams, this one targets people who are vulnerable—in this case, current or recent graduates. Here are some common variations on the theme: Someone calls a recent grad and offers a scholarship that doesn’t exist, or says they’ll help to find a roommate or a non-existent house rental. The goal of the scam is to acquire personal information, sometimes financial information, that is then abused by the scammer.
The “FBI arrest/deportation Scam” –
A helpful note: If the FBI is planning to arrest you, they’re not going to call you first. But it can still be jarring to get an official-sounding call from someone claiming to be from this government office. In this scam, the caller will say he’s from the FBI and has a warrant for your arrest, or from Immigration and plans to deport you. The caller will ask for you to make a “bail” or “fine” payment in order to rescind the warrant. It simply doesn’t work that way so, don’t be duped.
The “Google-listing Scam” –
In this scam, a caller will claim that he can either add or remove your business on Google for a fee. These callers are not affiliated with Google, have no power to do what they claim, and are simply collecting payment for a service that they cannot do. According to Google, while you might get a call from an operator for the purposes of development, customer service, or support, the caller “will never ask you for payment information over the phone or guarantee you favorable placement in [their] products.”
These are a few of the scams currently being utilized. As scammers become more proficient at what they do, other models of scams will appear. So, be alert to the likelihood you will be targeted. Hold fast to the general rule of never giving anyone your personal or financial information over the phone or to an unsolicited email or text message. When in doubt, you should initiate direct contact with the company or service provider named in the scam whether or not they have you as a client. Service/product providers like to know when this kind of thing happens especially when scammers are using their identities for fraudulent purposes.
Be safe out there!
If you receive one of these unsolicited emails, DO NOT OPEN ANY LINKS CONTAINED IN THE MESSAGE. Instead, contact PayPal directly by using their legitimate website and let them know you may have been victimized. They will advise you as to what to do next.
The time is fast approaching for a decision to be made.
The license for our "domain name" (frhs62) will expire at the end of this year. If we wish to continue to operate the Class of 1962 website, the 2-year renewal fee will be an estimated $179.95. That amount is based on what the cost was at the last renewal two years ago. It's conceivable this year's cost may be slightly higher, but we won't know that until we are actually billed for the renewal of the domain name.
Please advise as to whether you wish to continue the class website or discontinue it. A decision must be made not later than October 31, 2019.
Reports of scammers calling individuals offering fake refunds for businesses that were “going out of business” started in 2018. Then there was an influx in early 2019, and now, they’re back at it. This time the crooks are offering up fraudulent refunds from companies experiencing “server issues”. In computing, a “server” is a program or a device that provides functionality for other programs or devices called “clients” which is a term the scammers may also use. They are not targeting just one company, as they know that would limit their victim pool. Instead, they keep their information vague, hoping the victim will throw say something to give them a lead as to how to proceed.
Just this week, one targeted victim notified the support team at PC Matic, a very popular computer security program, the scammers were claiming to represent them. During the call, the scammer claimed PC Matic experienced server issues, which is why they were issuing $50 refunds. They initially claimed the issues took place “last month”. Then they stated it was “last year”. This caused the victim to be suspicious. Then the customer was asked to provide banking information “in order to process the refund.” That’s when the customer hung up.
First and foremost, if a company was going to issue refunds for any reason, they would not call every single customer. That would take a ridiculous amount of time. Secondly, if a refund was going to be processed, they would not need the banking information. Businesses keep their customer payment information on file. They may request that you verify the last four digits but will never ask for the full card, routing or account number. So, do not give out your personal information!
If you receive one of these calls, follow these steps:
1. Gather as much information from the caller as you can. Ask for the phone number he/she is calling from if it doesn’t appear on your caller ID. You can even ask for a call back number. Get the individual’s name and the company which he/she claims to represent. See if you can find out what the caller’s alleged location is. Any information you are given is probably fake but get it anyway. It may help authorities in their investigation.
2. Once you’ve collected the data, tell the caller you know it’s a scam and you will be calling the authorities. This will help to deter them from calling again.
3. Notify your local authorities and share with them all of the information you have collected.
4. Above all, never share your banking information or personally identifiable information with anyone on the telephone.
A major new study suggests it may be possible to avoid developing dementia. The study was published Monday by scientists at the University of Exeter and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019 in Los Angeles.
According to the report, living a healthy lifestyle could help you reduce your risk of dementia, even if you have a genetic risk of the disease according to this new study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association. The study analyzed data from 196,383 adults of European ancestry aged 60 and older. Of that sample, the researchers identified 1,769 cases of dementia over a follow-up period of eight years.
The data collected strongly suggests participants with high genetic risk and an unfavorable lifestyle were almost three times more likely to develop dementia versus those with a low genetic risk and favorable lifestyle. However, the risk of dementia was 32% lower in people with a high genetic risk if they had followed a healthy lifestyle, compared to those with an unhealthy lifestyle.
“This research delivers a really important message that undermines a fatalistic view of dementia,” said co-lead author David Llewellyn, an associate professor at the University of Exeter Medical School and fellow at the Alan Turing Institute. “Some people believe it’s inevitable they’ll develop dementia because of their genetics.” This research, however, says that may not necessarily be the case.
The study, published Monday by scientists at the University of Exeter and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, looked at four main signs of a healthy versus unhealthy lifestyle. Those who were more likely to develop dementia reported eating an unhealthier diet higher in sugar and salt, did not engage in regular physical activity and smoked cigarettes. (The researchers considered “moderate alcohol consumption,” as well as regular exercise, no smoking and a healthy diet, as part of a healthy lifestyle.)
Of concern was the evidence which suggested drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia. A 2017 study found the fifth item worth avoiding: artificial sweeteners. “Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank artificially sweetened beverages less than once a week,” according to the study, published in the American Heart Association journal “Stroke.”
Researchers also found a statistically significant association between dementia and exposure to anticholinergic drugs, especially antidepressants, anti-psychotic drugs, anti-Parkinson drugs, anti-epilepsy drugs and bladder antimuscarinics, which are used to treat urinary incontinence, according to another study in JAMA Internal Medicine.
lyzed data from 284,343 patients in England aged 55 and up. They found “nearly 50% increased odds of dementia” linked with exposure to more than 1,095 daily doses of anticholinergics over 10 years, “equivalent to three years’ daily use of a single strong anticholinergic medication at the minimum effective dose recommended for older people.”
“We found greater increases in risk associated with people diagnosed with dementia before the age of 80, which indicates that anticholinergic drugs should be prescribed with caution in middle-aged and older people,” the researchers wrote. Anticholinergic drugs block a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine in the nervous system.
While a separate invited commentary also published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine praised the rigor of the new findings, it also cautioned that more evidence was needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
by Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
estimated 46% of U.S. adults have consistently high blood pressure that could
lead to a diagnosis of hypertension. Hypertension can increase your risk for
heart disease and stroke, so people with hypertension often wonder how they got
it, and many without hypertension ask if they are at risk of getting it later
in life. Here, we’ll look at things that might cause blood pressure to go up,
including risk factors and causes for hypertension.
Research shows that certain characteristics, or risk factors, can increase your chances of developing hypertension. While the following may not make you have hypertension for sure, they can increase your risk of having hypertension later in life.
Male gender – Based on research, men overall seem to have a higher risk of developing hypertension compared to women.
Older age – Older people tend to experience higher rates of hypertension. For example, over 77% of men and 75% of women age 65 and older are estimated to have hypertension. In contrast, only about 30% of men and 19% of women age 44 and younger have hypertension. More men than not experience hypertension by age 45. For women, that threshold is at age 55.
Chronically high cholesterol and high blood sugar – If you have high cholesterol and high blood sugar over a long period of time, you can have a higher risk of having hypertension later in life.
Along with these risk factors, the American Heart Association’s most recent guidelines for diagnosing and treating heart-related diseases identifies the following issues as causes of hypertension.
1) Genetics –
Some researchers believe that certain genes in your DNA can cause hypertension. Although there is little we can do to change our genetics at this time, telling your healthcare provider if your parents, grandparents, or siblings have hypertension can help them know if it runs in your family and if you might be at risk for hypertension.
2) Being overweight or obese –
Multiple studies show that people who are overweight or obese tend to have higher blood pressure than those who are not, and some have even suggested that significant excess weight is behind almost 40% of all hypertension diagnoses. If you are overweight, the best thing to do to reduce your risk for hypertension is to lose weight by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
3) Eating too much sodium –
Regularly eating too much sodium (such as from table salt or the salt in processed foods) is known to increase your risk of hypertension. Americans seem to over-consume salt. The American Heart Association recommends eating less than 1500 mg of salt a day, but on average, Americans eat over 3400 mg daily! Reducing that by just 1000 mg can have great benefits. Long-term, high-salt intake can increase your risk for stroke, heart problems, and other health issues. Older adults, African Americans, and people with diabetes or kidney problems may need to aim for even lower salt intake than the 1500 mg per day recommendation, as research shows that blood pressure in these groups tends to respond more strongly to salt. If you regularly consume a lot of salt, lowering your salt intake can help to lower your risk for hypertension and other heart problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a great guide to help you here.
4) Eating too little potassium –
While high sodium intake can cause high blood pressure, not enough potassium could also be a problem. People who regularly eat a healthy amount of potassium may have lower blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating 3500 mg to 5000 mg of potassium a day. Eating too much potassium can also be bad and cause heart problems, so make sure to talk to your provider about your potassium levels and what kinds of potassium-containing foods you should eat.
5) An inactive lifestyle
The less active you are, the higher your risk of developing hypertension, regardless of age. This seems to be especially true for Caucasian men. To reduce your risk, ask your healthcare provider about an exercise routine that fits your age and health.
6) Chronic, excessive alcohol consumption –
We’ve known for over a century that excessive alcohol consumption can cause hypertension. In fact, almost 10% of the U.S. population may have hypertension due to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Not only does alcohol cause your blood pressure to rise, but high amounts of alcohol can increase your cholesterol levels, which can also be bad for your heart. For these and other health reason, it is important to limit your alcohol intake to less than two drinks a day for men and less than one drink a day for women. Note – one drink is defined as 12 oz beer, 4 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz of 100-proof spirits.
7) Medication side effects-
Certain prescribed and over-the-counter medications can increase your risk for hypertension by raising your blood pressure as a side effect. Depending on your individual health circumstances, your doctor may adjust your dosage, switch you to a different medication, or treat your high blood pressure separately. We wrote about some medications that can cause your blood pressure to increase here.
Some people may have an underlying health problem that can cause them to have high blood pressure. Treating these conditions can help to lower blood pressure or even reverse hypertension. Below are a few examples.
1) Kidney problems –
The kidneys are very important organs, responsible for getting rid of many waste products and toxins when you urinate. Unfortunately, when the kidneys don’t work well, it can cause your body to retain fluid, leading to higher blood pressure and possibly, hypertension. Many things can cause kidney dysfunction. If your doctor suspects you have kidney dysfunction, they may have you take some blood tests to see if your kidneys have any problems.
2) Obstructive sleep apnea –
Surprisingly, many people with sleep apnea have high blood pressure, which can lead to hypertension. We think sleep apnea causes hypertension by interfering with your body’s normal breathing rhythm and oxygen supply. If you find out that you experience disrupted sleep (either on your own or from someone who has observed you sleeping), it is important to talk to your doctor about this. A sleep study can help you determine if you have sleep apnea and if you need a breathing device (known as a CPAP machine) at night. Treating sleep apnea can help lower your blood pressure so you don’t need hypertension medications.
3) Hormone imbalances –
Many hormones in your body help to control your blood pressure. When the balance of these hormones is off, you might experience a change in your blood pressure. For instance, too much thyroid hormone or aldosterone in your bloodstream can lead to high blood pressure. Your doctor can help you confirm if your hormone levels are off with some simple blood tests.
As you can see, some causes of hypertension can be managed with healthy lifestyle habits, such as keeping a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Other causes, like medication side effects or an underlying health problem, may require more clinical guidance from your healthcare provider.
Credits: Article prepared by Timothy Aungst, PharmD is an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at MCPHS University. He also regularly blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com about all things tech and digital health.
As we age, the strength and density of our bones weaken, which may lead to easily broken bones. Osteoporosis, the diagnosis doctors often assign to patients with really low bone density, typically has no symptoms until there is a fracture. With this condition, the spongy center of bones becomes hollow. The normally long and connected fibers inside bones begin to disappear, and the surrounding shell of bone gets thinner, too. Fractures associated with osteoporosis most commonly occur in the hip, forearm, and spine.
Several medications can lower bone density and weaken bones, so if you are taking one of these drugs, your doctor may want to keep a close eye on your bone density with a DEXA (bone densitometry) scan.
The following medications are known to increase your risk for fractures:
These medications are prescribed for multiple conditions including asthma, skin problems, and autoimmune diseases such as certain kidney diseases, lupus, Crohn’s and Grave’s diseases. Corticosteroids (prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone) slow down bone formation by targeting cells known as osteoblasts that build bone. Because new bone is constantly made as old bone is destroyed, impairing bone formation means that more bone is being broken down than being made, and this results in an increased risk of fractures.
Anti-androgen medications are used long term to treat prostate cancer in men. These medications lower male hormone levels and help to prevent prostate cancer from returning. However, using them can result in bone loss and osteoporosis. If you are using leuprolide injections (Lupron, Eligard), bicalutamide (Casodex), or Xtandi, your doctor will closely monitor your bone density.
Carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and divalproex (Depakote) are commonly taken to prevent seizures, migraine headaches, and pain from trigeminal neuralgia. However, they can cause bone loss. Vitamin D is a nutrient we need to keep our bones strong—but it does not work directly on bone. It first gets converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is then converted to calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D that helps with bone health. Carbamazepine, phenytoin interfere with this process by turning on a liver enzyme that breaks down 25-hydroxyvitamin D before it can be activated. Valproate lowers bone density too, but in a different way.
Loop diuretics like furosemide (Lasix) and bumetanide (Bumex) can reduce the amount of calcium in your bones. these types of drugs have been shown to lower bone density in some studies of men and women. They may also increase the risk of bone fractures, according to some studies.
Anti-estrogen therapies are used to prevent breast cancer recurrence by blocking the hormone, estradiol, which can feed breast cancer growth. However, they are also detrimental to bone health. Common examples of these drugs include tamoxifen (Nolvadex), femara (Letrozole), anastrozole (Arimidex), and exemestane (Aromasin). These can cause bone loss and bone fragility, predisposing patients to fractures.
Finally, do proton pump inhibitors affect bone health?
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are among the most widely used medications for heartburn symptoms, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and gastrointestinal ulcers. Studies in the past have revealed conflicting results as to whether these medications lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Results from a large review of research studies this year, for instance, suggest that PPIs may slightly increase the risk of osteoporosis—but that this only applies to certain drugs. The increased risk was seen with esomeprazole (Nexium) and rabeprazole (Aciphex), but not with other PPIs. Researchers suspect that PPIs may limit how much calcium your body absorbs from food, which can lead your body to take calcium from your bones. However, more information is needed to determine what the risk of osteoporosis is with each PPI.
So, what works to keep the bones strong while you are on these medications? Maintaining a healthy body weight and regularly engaging in physical activity are the two best ways to keep your bones strong, and of course, they benefit your overall health in other ways. In research, patients who regularly exercise and are within a healthy weight range have better bone mineral density.
If you must take a medication that causes bone loss, then your doctor will keep a close eye on your bone density and may recommend a bone-strengthening medication. If you do have low bone density, the best way to avoid a fracture is to prevent falls. This can be done through strengthening and balance exercises, clearing clutter and trip hazards at home, and asking your healthcare providers for advice on home-help aids to lower your risk of falls.
In short, watch your step out there!
While the summer months
have only just begun, cooler weather is not that far away. And, it’s important to remember that cooler
weather can also mean greater risk of getting sick.
Scientists have proven that cooler temperatures weaken our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness and infection. Additionally, cooler weather toughens the outer shell of viruses, making it easier for them to travel from person to person. The immune system naturally weakens with age, which means winter can be even more dangerous. Here’s a list of four vaccines that Medicare helps pay for and that you should talk with your doctor about to help protect yourself from illness this winter and beyond.
Influenza Vaccine – “The Flu Shot”
Why is it important for older adults to get the flu shot? Older adults—even if you are healthy—are at higher risk when it comes to the flu due to age-related weakening of our immune systems, making it more difficult for us to fight off disease. For the 86% of adults 65+ who are managing a chronic condition—like diabetes or heart disease—the flu can be even more dangerous because you are more likely to develop complications or become hospitalized. Flu combined with pneumonia—a common acute condition among the aging population—is one of the top 10 causes of death for those aged 65+ in the U.S. According to the CDC, the flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu. To address the increased risks faced by the aging population, a higher-dose version of the flu vaccine was created specifically for older adults – talk to your doctor today about this option.
When should you get the flu shot? You should get a flu shot annually. For older adults, it’s best that you get your vaccine as early in the season as possible to prevent contracting the flu from a loved one, caregiver, or friend. Flu season in the U.S. typically peaks between November and March, meaning it’s vital for you to get your shot before the holidays start. It’s important to note that it does take two weeks after getting the shot for your body to build up full immunity.
Where can you get the flu shot? Your best option for getting the flu shot is to make an appointment with your physician. You can also visit your local clinic or drug store to receive the shot, but it’s a good idea to call ahead as some locations do run out of the vaccine.
How does Medicare cover the cost of the flu shot? The flu vaccine is a once a year, cost-free Medicare Part B benefit. For Original Medicare, you must use a physician or healthcare provider who accepts Medicare, and for Medicare Advantage, you may have to use an in-network doctor or pharmacy.
NOTE: More recently experts in the field of preventative medicine have questioned the efficacy of flu vaccines for those over the age of 65. However, your decision whether to be vaccinated should be based on a conversation with your personal physician.
What is Shingles? Shingles is a painful skin rash that’s caused by the same virus responsible for chickenpox. Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox and can only be passed on to another person up until the point when the infected person’s blisters begin to scab. Even after shingles passes, long-term pain can linger.
Why is it important for older adults to get the shingles vaccine? Researchers believe that the age-related weakening of our immune systems can trigger the “reawakening” of the dormant chickenpox virus. One in three adults contracts shingles at some point in their life—the majority of whom are 60 years or older—and the older you are when you get shingles, the more likely you are to have severe side effects, like fever, exhaustion and loss of appetite. These can lead to malnutrition, physical deterioration and/or additional infections. Whether you remember having chickenpox as a child or not, you should still talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated.
When should you get the shingles vaccine? There are two shingles vaccines available for healthy older adults. The CDC recommends that healthy adults over age 50 get a two-dose version of the vaccine. The shots are generally given several months apart and is about 90% effective after you’ve had both shots. The single dose vaccine may still be used for healthy people over age 60. If you’ve had the single dose version of the vaccine, talk with your doctor to see if you need to get the new two-dose version.
Where can you get the shingles vaccine? Your physician or local pharmacy can administer the shingles vaccine.
How does Medicare cover the cost of the shingles vaccine? All Medicare Part D drug plans, or Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription coverage, typically cover the shingles vaccine. However, there is usually an out-of-pocket cost. Depending on your plan, you will either be responsible for a co-payment (fixed dollar amount) or coinsurance (percentage of the vaccine’s cost). You are likely to have the least out-of-pocket expenses if you use a pharmacy in your plan’s network. Each plan has specific rules for covering the vaccine itself, as well as the administration of the injection, so it’s best to contact your insurance company directly to find out your specific out-of-pocket cost, and any rules you must follow regarding where you receive the vaccine.
What is pneumococcal disease? Pneumococcal disease causes severe infections throughout the bloodstream and/or key organs. While you may not have heard of pneumococcal disease, you have probably heard of the conditions that result from this disease, including pneumonia (infection of the lungs), meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), and bacteremia (infection of the bloodstream). Pneumococcal disease can result in deafness, brain damage, loss of limbs, and even death.
Why is it important for older adults to get the pneumococcal vaccine? Pneumococcal disease kills 18,000 adults 65+ each year. A weakening immune system means that older adults are at greater risk, and can face more severe side effects, especially those who are managing chronic diseases.
When should you get the pneumococcal vaccine? The pneumococcal vaccine—you may hear people call it the pneumonia vaccine—is actually two shots given about a year apart. Check with your doctor to see if you’ve had either shot already.
Where can you get the pneumococcal vaccine? You can usually make an appointment with your doctor to receive the vaccine or visit your local clinic or pharmacy.
How does Medicare cover the cost of the pneumococcal vaccine? The pneumococcal vaccine is a cost-free benefit covered by Medicare Part B. For Original Medicare, you must use a physician or healthcare provider who accepts Medicare, and for Medicare Advantage, you may have to use an in-network doctor or pharmacy.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
What is the hepatitis B virus? Hepatitis B (or hep B) is a contagious virus that infects the liver. Acute hep B, which usually lasts a few weeks, often mimics symptoms like the flu, like fever and nausea. Chronic hep B is long-term, often has no symptoms at all, and can cause liver damage or death.
Why is it important for older adults to get the hepatitis B vaccine? The liver and its function change as you age, making hep B more prevalent among older adults. Your risk of contracting hepatitis B increases if you have hemophilia, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), diabetes, or other conditions that lower resistance to infection. Acute hep B is particularly dangerous for older adults because there is no specific treatment for the symptoms.
When should you get the hepatitis B vaccine? The hepatitis B vaccine is a series of three or four injections received over six months. Most Americans are vaccinated against hepatitis B as infants. If you are not sure if you’ve been vaccinated or if you are in a situation where you may need to update your vaccination, contact your doctor immediately.
Where can you get the hepatitis B vaccine? Your doctor, a local clinic or a drug store can administer the vaccine.
How does Medicare cover the cost of the hepatitis B vaccine? Medicare Part B insurance covers the full cost of the hep B vaccine if (A) a doctor determines that you are at high or medium risk of contracting the hep B virus, and (B) the physician or healthcare provider administering the vaccine accepts Medicare. Consult your doctor to determine your risk of getting hep B.
In summary - make a plan to get vaccinated!
Getting these vaccines is an important part of healthy aging, and they also help ensure the health of your friends and family. Call your doctor today to see if these vaccines are right for your health, and then check with your Medicare provider about where you can get them. If you know someone who may not be vaccinated, share this information with them so they can take the next step toward protecting themselves.
A few classmates had inquired about the PowerPoint presentations that were shown during our 50th and 55th Reunion dinner/dance events. For those who have Microsoft Office PowerPoint capability on your computers, the following link will run the presentation for you. For those who don't have MS Office, it may run using a generic application. Good luck!