Medicare Blueprint Advisors - March/April 2020


MAR-APR 2020

Mike Gminski ended my basketball career before it could even begin. I was in the eighth grade, going to school in my home town of Oxford, Connecticut, just having fun playing the sport with my classmates. But no matter how good we thought we were, we feared playing the team from the next town over. Gminski, from Monroe, Connecticut, would run circles around us and basically every team he played. Maybe we couldn’t predict he’d go on to be a Hall of Famer at that age, but we could tell he was special. This is all to say I probably won’t be tuning in to the March Madness games this year. Those early crushing defeats by the boy who would go on to play for Duke, The Nets, 76ers, and more pretty much soured any real interest I had in basketball. I don’t even know if I’ve watched a game since Magic Johnson left the sport. That said, I haven’t hung up my gym shorts just yet. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken a renewed interest in my health. One reason for that is simply the fact that I’m almost 60 and want to do my best to stay active for as long as I can. Another reason is that I’ve also seen so many positive examples through my clients. ANYTHING BUT BASKETBALL How I Stay Fit Approaching 60

“Mike Gminski ended my basketball career before it could even begin.”

Seeing people older than me in fantastic shape is nothing less than inspiring, to say nothing of the benefits these active Medicare beneficiaries see.

For starters, better health often means fewer medications and more mobility. The money these workout enthusiasts save at the pharmacy alone is enough to justify a gym membership. Best of all, many Medicare Advantage plans recognize this and offer discounts or even cover fitness programs. Even if you aren’t on a plan that covers gym memberships, people close to or at retirement age can still find great deals. For example, many Planet Fitness locations offer people age 60 or older yearly memberships for less than $10 per month. Arguably, it may be easier to hit the gym at this age than ever before. Of course, working out isn’t exactly easy. For all the natural talent Mike Gminski had, he probably wouldn’t have been as successful if his father hadn’t become his full-time coach. So, I’ve taken a page from my old middle school rival’s book and brought on a personal trainer myself. Personally, I need that external motivation to make sure I meet my fitness goals. Still, I don’t think discounts or any amount of coaching is going to make me dread leg day any less. But, ultimately, that post-workout feeling and the knowledge I’m taking steps to keep up with the rest of my family are more than worth it.

Here’s to all the ways we can stay active,

– Tim Hanbury



Good News for Those With ESRD

Nothing means more to us than hearing we’ve made a positive impact on our clients’ lives. We’re so grateful for all those who have shared their kind words with us over the years. Here are a few that touched our hearts! What Our Clients Think!

Medicare Advantage Plans Might Be Opening Up

Throughout the history of Medicare’s existence, people with end- stage renal disease (ESRD) have been ineligible for many plans. In fact, those facing ESRD today are only able to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B and are barred from any Advantage plans through Part C. There are a few exceptions, such as when one develops the disease while already enrolled in a plan, but for the vast majority of those struggling with this illness, health care options have been limited. But a new proposal is looking to change this. In February of this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made a proposal for removing restrictions on ESRD patients from enrolling in Advantage plans. This is part of the CMS’s efforts to meet the requirements of the Cures Act signed into law in 2016. According to the law, eligible individuals with ESRD will be able to enroll in Advantage plans beginning January 1, 2021. The CMS is still hashing out details on how the medical community can meet the requirements of the Cures Act. As it stands, CMS has proposed that, in exchange for Advantage plan organizations opening up to meeting the medical needs of those with ESRD, Original Medicare (A&B) will take on the costs of kidney acquisitions and transplants for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. Of course, this arrangement may change as negotiations continue. Regardless of how the details shake out between the CMS and Advantage plan organizations, this is sure to be a welcome change for those facing ESRD and their loved ones. Having more plans to choose from will help them get the quality care they need. We’ll continue to watch this initial proposal as it develops. If you have ESRD and have questions about the options available to you, please feel free to reach out to us at 888-335-9498.

“ Very prompt in answering questions and always helpful.”

–Elizabeth Hamilton, customer since 2017

“Very knowledgeable staff (actually wrote the book on Medicare) who are easily accessible and take the time to explain all options.”

–David Meacher, customer since 2017

“If ever I have questions, time is always taken to get me answers! That makes me feel important. Thank you.”

–Sadie Clark, customer since 2018



Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a landmark decision for Medicare coverage. Acupuncture will now be a covered treatment option for beneficiaries suffering from chronic lower back pain. The decision comes as part of an ongoing effort across the health care industry to curb reliance on opioids by opening up coverage to alternative methods of pain management. ACUPUNCTURE COMES TO MEDICARE An Alternative Option for Those With Lower Back Pain Dating as far back as 100 B.C., acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine believed to balance one’s chi, or life force, by inserting needles into key points along the body. Today, Western practitioners have argued that inserting needles into these acupuncture points helps the body release its natural painkillers. Anecdotally, some have found relief from all manner of chronic pain conditions thanks to acupuncture, though scientific evidence of its effectiveness is inconclusive. What Is Acupuncture?

12 weeks or longer, have no identifiable cause (including infection or disease), and cannot be associated with surgery or pregnancy.

How Much Is Covered?

If your back pain checks all these boxes, then you’re eligible to receive acupuncture from a licensed professional with a master’s degree in the practice. Medicare will cover 12 sessions over a 90- day period, with an additional eight sessions for patients who show improvement. While limited in scope, this is a promising first step to bring a wider range of treatment options to all Medicare beneficiaries. Currently, other areas of alternative medicine, such as massage therapy, aren’t covered. However, some advantage plans do include coverage for these practices.

Do You Have Chronic Back Pain?

Currently, Medicare only covers acupuncture treatments for beneficiaries experiencing chronic lower back pain, an all too common condition. To qualify for treatment, your pain must last for




• • •

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp dried parsley flakes

12 large eggs, hard-boiled

• •

1/2 tsp dill weed 1/2 tsp fresh chives, minced 1/2 tsp ground mustard

Fresh parsley, minced, and paprika for garnish


1. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, parsley flakes, dill, chives, mustard, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix well and set aside. 2. Cut eggs lengthwise and remove yolks carefully to preserve egg whites. 3. In a small bowl, mash yolks. 4. Mix mashed yolks with mayonnaise mixture. 5. Spoon or pipe the mixture back into the egg whites. 6. Garnish with fresh parsley and paprika. Refrigerate before serving.




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Start plogging. If you’re passionate about staying active and cleaning up your neighborhood, then this is the perfect activity for you! Plogging combines jogging and picking up litter, which takes care of your health and keeps your community clean. Anybody can do it: Just throw on your running shoes, grab a bag, head out the door, and pick up any stray bits of trash you see on your morning jog or evening walk. Beautiful Month is to spread awareness about recycling. There are various ways to educate those around you about recycling and encourage them to do their part. At work, for example, you can volunteer to lead a recycling initiative by printing off guides and fostering discussions on why recycling is so essential. At home, you can make a commitment with your family to fulfill the three R’s of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle. To discover more ways to participate in Keep America Beautiful month, visit their website at today! Improve recycling through education. An important goal during Keep America

properly dispose of it? You might not have realized it, but in that moment, you took a small step toward keeping your community — and, by extension, America — beautiful! April is Keep America Beautiful Month, and folks who celebrate aim to help each community in every state stay clean and green. Created by the nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful, this holiday offers a perfect opportunity to roll up your sleeves and work to better the place you live in. Here are three ways to showyour appreciation for a green America this month. Volunteer for the Great American Cleanup. This event is one of America’s largest community improvement programs, with hundreds of thousands of people participating each year. In 2019, over 550,000 volunteers participated in the GAC to bring natural beauty back into their communities. 2020 marks this event’s 22nd year, and you can be a part of it this month! Volunteer your time with a local Keep America Beautiful affiliate or another community improvement program close to home. Do your part to clean up your parks and spread awareness today.


And Maintain Green Living Spaces for Everyone

Have you ever walked through a park and seen a plastic bottle or wrapper lying on the ground? If so, did you pick it up and properly dispose of it? You might not have realized it, but in that moment, you took a small step toward keeping your community — and, by extension, America — beautiful! Have you ever walked through a park and seen a plastic bottle or wrapper lying on the ground? If so, did you pick it up and



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