Medicare Open Enrollment Ends Tomorrow!

One Day

From October 15 to December 7 every year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) gives you free reign to change your Medicare coverage. Take advantage of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period or you could be stuck with your plan for the coming year, premiums and all.

 

What You Can Do During Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment is your time to pick the Medicare plan that gives you the best coverage for the best price.

Here are your different options.

You can change from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.

  • You can switch from Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) to a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C).
  • You can switch from Original Medical to a Medicare Advantage Plan with Part D coverage (an MA-PD plan).
  • You can switch from Original Medicare plus a Part D plan to a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • You can switch from Original Medical plus a Part D plan to an MA-PD plan.

You can change from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare.

  • You can switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare.
  • You can switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare plus a Part D plan.
  • You can switch from an MA-PD plan to Original Medicare.
  • You can switch from an MA-PD plan to Original Medicare plus a Part D plan.

You can change from Medicare Advantage to Medicare Advantage.

  • You can change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan.
  • You can change from a Medicare Advantage plan to an MA-PD plan.
  • You can change from one MA-PD plan to another MA-PD plan.
  • You can change from an MA-PD plan to a Medicare Advantage plan.

You can change your prescription drug coverage.

  • You can sign up for a Part D plan.
  • You can switch from one Part D plan to another Part D plan.
  • You can cancel your Part D coverage.

What You Cannot Do During Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment has its limits. You cannot enroll in Original Medicare for the first time or sign up for Part B, even if you already have Part A.

You need to sign up for Part A and/or Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). The IEP is based on age and begins three months before and end three months after your 65th birthday.

Alternatively, if you have insurance through an employer, you may be able to delay your initial enrollment. This is only the case if the company you work for employs at least 20 full-time employees. Your special enrollment period begins when you leave your job or you lose your employer-sponsored health coverage, whichever comes first, and lasts for eight months.

If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you need to wait until the General Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. The General Enrollment Period happens once a year from January 1 to March 31.

Sciatica

sciatica

 

I’ve veered off-topic yet again with a bit about sciatica.  I’ve dealt with this for years and years and had a bunch of opinions from a lot of people on what to do, what to take.  For me, nothing seems to help except waiting it out for about a week, then it settles down.  I’ve tried heat, cold, Tylenol, prescriptions, exercises, sitting, standing, lying down…

Just wait a week.  Right now, I’m on day 6, so I have high hopes for tomorrow.

I do notice that sitting is marginally worse than lying or standing.  I guess that maybe compresses the nerve more?  I do have a bit of Oxycodone left over from my knee pain (which I still have – luckily, on the same leg – just not as badly), so I take 1/2 of one to help me sleep at night.

kidding1
Whenever I think of Oxycodone, I’m reminded of the night that I was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  I’d just been admitted to a room and someone came to visit me.  She offered to buy my Oxy from me.  I was stunned.  Then, she said she was just kidding.

Um, no.  I can’t think of anyone who would even think of buying Oxy who didn’t have some kind of issue – even as a “joke”.

 

 

Some info from the Mayo Clinic

Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body.

Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.

Although the pain associated with sciatica can be severe, most cases resolve with non-operative treatments in a few weeks. People who have severe sciatica that’s associated with significant leg weakness or bowel or bladder changes might be candidates for surgery.

Pain that radiates from your lower (lumbar) spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg is the hallmark of sciatica. You might feel the discomfort almost anywhere along the nerve pathway, but it’s especially likely to follow a path from your low back to your buttock and the back of your thigh and calf.

The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating pain. Sometimes it can feel like a jolt or electric shock. It can be worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting can aggravate symptoms. Usually only one side of your body is affected.

Some people also have numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot. You might have pain in one part of your leg and numbness in another part.

Read more at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sciatica/basics/definition/con-20026478

World Blood Donor Day

World-Blood-Donor-Day

 

The theme of this year’s World Blood Donor Day is “Blood connects us all”. It focuses on thanking blood donors and highlights the dimension of “sharing” and “connection” between blood donors and patients. In addition, the World Health Organization has adopted the slogan “Share life, give blood”, to draw attention to the roles that voluntary donation systems play in encouraging people to care for one another and promote community cohesion.

36 hours is all it takes for your body to replace blood that you donate. Celebrate #WorldBloodDonorDay on Tuesday, June 14. Blood connects us all.

Find out how you can help here. http://curec.lk/21iWHSi

 

Polycystic Kidney Disease

normal-and-polycystic-kidneys

 

I’ve decided to add information about Polycystic Kidney Disease to this blog since my brother-in-law died from this last week.  My mother-in-law also had it and 3 of her children inherited this disease.

When I had my kidney cancer, I was surprised to learn that Polycystic Kidney Disease was a risk factor.

~~~

 

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that causes numerous cysts to grow in the kidneys. A kidney cyst is an abnormal sac filled with fluid. PKD cysts can greatly enlarge the kidneys while replacing much of their normal structure, resulting in chronic kidney disease (CKD), which causes reduced kidney function over time. CKD may lead to kidney failure, described as end-stage kidney disease or ESRD when treated with a kidney transplant or blood-filtering treatments called dialysis. The two main types of PKD are autosomal dominant PKD and autosomal recessive PKD.

PKD cysts are different from the usually harmless “simple” cysts that often form in the kidneys later in life. PKD cysts are more numerous and cause complications, such as high blood pressure, cysts in the liver, and problems with blood vessels in the brain and heart.

Adapted from http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/polycystic-kidney-disease-pkd/Pages/facts.aspx

More information to follow…

Rally for Medical Research Hill Day

Held every September, this Capitol Hill Day event continues the momentum established in 2013, and includes nearly 300 national organizations coming together in support of the Rally for Medical Research.

The purpose of the Rally is to call on our nation’s policymakers to make funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority and raise awareness about the importance of continued investment in medical research that leads to MORE PROGRESS, MORE HOPE and MORE LIVES SAVED.

The next Rally for Medical Research Hill Day is Sept. 22, 2016.

Sign up to receive updates, including a link to register once it becomes available.

Hmmm – I Drink Coffee All Day

coffee-maker

This article says differently:

You’re probably drinking coffee at the wrong time of day

Wake up and smell the coffee beans. Many of us start the day in this manner, but sometimes that caffeine kick we’re after doesn’t actually kick. Turns out there’s a good reason – if you’re missing out on an energy boost from that morning cup, science has the answer.

The daily coffee habit isn’t just a delicious ritual, it’s also a vehicle for the planet’s most popular psychoactive drug, caffeine. People the world over rely on this central nervous system stimulant for its ability to keep them alert, despite the myriad side effects including possible anxiety and heartburn (everything in moderation, people).

However, as anyone who’s not a coffee addict will attest, humans are perfectly capable of staying awake without chemical help. This is thanks to our own internal chemistry, and, more specifically, a hormone called cortisol.

As with any hormone, cortisol has several influences on the body, and is most commonly associated with metabolism. Produced in the adrenal cortex above the kidneys, it also plays a role in our stress and alertness levels.

And this is where it gets really interesting. Research has found that cortisol has a natural peak-and-fall cycle in the human body, with the highest levels occurring on average between 8 to 9 am.

Cortisol – and therefore your natural, unaided alertness levels – are important to consider in relation to your caffeine intake. Right when you wake up, your cortisol is already on the climb, which means that the morning coffee shot is going to have a lesser effect.

“If we are drinking caffeine at a time when your cortisol concentration in the blood is at its peak, you probably should not be drinking it,” writes neuroscientist Steven L. Miller. “One of the key principles of pharmacology is use a drug when it is needed [..] Otherwise, we can develop tolerance to a drug administered at the same dose.”

So drinking coffee first thing in the morning makes you more resistant to its effects. Of course, if you’re just drinking it for the taste, go nuts.

But when should you enjoy your coffee, then?

To optimise your coffee break, it’s best to have it between 9.30 and 11.30am. Because cortisol levels peak and rise a couple times during the day, your next window of alertness is between noon and 1pm, and then again between 5.30 and 6.30pm.

Drink coffee in-between these times to reap maximum caffeine benefits, but don’t leave it too late in the day if you want to get a good night’s sleep.

 

 

Am I likely to change my habits?  Probably not.  My cortisol levels have been screwed up for over 30 years anyway!

 

coffee-machine