Medicare benefits; new Social Security information

It is the middle of this year and time to talk about the valuable Medicare Preventive services that you are entitled to if you are on Medicare Part B, the part of Medicare that helps pay for non-hospitalized benefits.

(FYI, Medicare Part A is the part of Medicare that helps pay for the expenses you incur when you are hospitalized. If you have worked under Social Security and paid into Medicare for 40 quarters at any time during your life, you automatically receive Medicare Part A without a charge.)

Medicare covers these benefits to help you stay healthy: tests for breast, cervical, vaginal and colorectal cancers; bone mass measurements; diabetes self management; flu, pneumonia and hepatitis shots; glaucoma testing and prostate cancer screening tests. You should talk to your doctor about your risk of developing these health problems and your need for these preventive services.

Social Security expands services available through

Social Security has announced “Vision Star” guide to Social Security, and it shows how the agency will accomplish and deliver three key priorities: superior customer experience, exceptional employees, and an innovative organization over the next decade and beyond.

Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said, “Vision 2025 is our way of making sure we keep up with these changes, and how we position ourselves to best serve the public in the future. Vision 2025 represents the agency’s commitment to continuous long-term planning. It will guide our more than 65,000 employees who continue to provide exemplary service to our customers.”

For more information, you can access the Social Security Vision 2025 interactive website at

How to handle denied Medicare claims or file an appeal

If a claim was denied, call or write the hospital or facility and ask for an itemized statement for any claim. Make sure they sent in the right information. If they didn’t, ask the facility to contact the Medicare Claims Office, c/o Wisconsin Physician Services, PO BOX 78861, Madison, WI, 53707-7861 to correct the error.

Call 1-800-633-4227 for more information about a coverage or payment decision. Appeals must be filed in writing. For more information about appeals, read your “Medicare and You” handbook or go online to

Rita Hatch is an Older Persons Action Group board member and volunteer for OPAG’s Medicare assistance program. Call her at 276-1059 in Anchorage, toll-free statewide at 1-800-478-1059 or email her at