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Medicare Part B premiums won't go up in 2014

Medicare Part B premiums won't go up in 2014 | Senior Topics | Scoop.it
Medicare Part B premiums will remain flat in 2014, and seniors have saved $8.3 billion on prescriptions since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the government announced Monday.

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Life Coaching for Baby Boomers's curator insight, October 29, 2013 1:56 PM

 

FIND HAPPINESS AT WWW.LIFECOACHINGFORBABYBOOMERS.COM

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Social Media in Long-Term Care

Social Media in Long-Term Care | Senior Topics | Scoop.it

Everyone is abuzz about the social media. Yet its application for healthcare is not entirely clear. When you consider that 64 percent of word of mouth conversations happen face-to-face and not online, well the luster dims a bit. And when you consider that, unlike other industries that use coupons and other devices to drive immediate sales, healthcare services are something that people, by and large, do not want. We can’t issue a Groupon that says “Buy one nursing home day, get the second free. Act now.” So let’s simplify the social media equation for healthcare organizations.

 

Here is my take on how healthcare should use the social media.

 

Facebook - most people are looking for deals, coupons, etc from services and products that they use on an ongoing basis – think restaurants, retail. So it is not a perfect fit for healthcare. However, to the extent that you can build communities of people based on their affinity – caregiver community, Alzheimer’s community, weight loss community, diabetes community – that would help. And for everyone else, it is not about what you do as an organization but about what you share that can help him or her live a healthier life.

 

You Tube - picking up from the last line above, people will care less about viewing a procedure or process as they will care if your activity professional produces a video on activities elders can do at home to promote quality of life. Provide information people can use. Over time they will remember who provided it and think of you when they need what you offer. That also ties to your CRM efforts in which you collect data about prospects and clients so that you can give them what they want in both marketing and customer experience.

 

Twitter – the best use is to use one of the many Twitter tools out there and monitor mentions of your company. That is what Comcast does for their company and they identify customer service issues immediately. So using it in service recovery is becoming essential. A family caregiver leaves your facility and tweets about something that went wrong. You can deal with it immediately.

 

But you can also use these for breaking news that really has an impact and to create flash mobs at events or even in advocacy efforts. Take a cue from the following event.

 

A flash mob of dancers dressed as grey-haired senior citizens recently hit New York City’s Times Square to draw attention to long-term care insurance. Members danced a choreographed waltz in pairs, while a string quartet accompanied them. After the waltz, the dancers tore off their costumes and began a swing dance number. Following the dancers, an eldercare expert addressed a small crowd of spectators and spoke about the increased need for seniors to purchase long-term care insurance.

 

The mob was sponsored by non-profit group 3in4 Need More, which focuses on long-term care advocacy and the need for LTC insurance.

 

The Power of Four

Erik Qualman in a blog post “Social Media Made Simple: The 4 Steps” outlines four steps for success.

ListenInteract: Join the conversationReact: Adjust your product or service based on [2]Sell

Notice what is last? Companies often jump straight to step four, selling. Start with listening. Without listening the other three steps will not happen.


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The social media scene: Helping the uninsured log on so they can sign up

The social media scene: Helping the uninsured log on so they can sign up | Senior Topics | Scoop.it

If you log onto the Facebook page for Covered California, that state's health insurance exchange, you'll be greeted by a glut of status updates encouraging uninsured Californians to sign up for coverage. Exchange officials hope their Facebook page and other social media tools will help ease the confusion caused by early glitches in the state's online enrollment process.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ have acted as Covered California's virtual classrooms, as exchange staffers post online content to quickly answer confused consumers' questions about buying health coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California also has used interactive question-and-answer sessions. It has hosted live chats on Facebook, Reddit and CoverItLive, a live-blogging online portal. It also has posted YouTube video interviews with Californians who have successfully enrolled through the exchange.

Social media campaigns such as one just launched in Colorado help reach a targeted audience that includes both younger and older residents.

Social media campaigns such as one just launched in Colorado help reach a targeted audience that includes both younger and older residents.

To counter reports that consumers struggled to enroll online early in October, a Covered California Facebook update from Oct. 17 suggests signing up by phone as an alternative, noting that the process would take less than an hour. The Facebook page boasts nearly 100,000 “likes.”

“We're educating people online, we get comments from the public every single day, and we'll respond to a specific topic that consumers might suggest,” said Roy Kennedy, a spokesman for Covered California. “The goal is to educate each person that comes on and make them feel comfortable that they've received answers.” Nearly 18% of the state's non-elderly population is uninsured, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.

Social media also enable virtual town-hall style meetings, popular forums for Covered California and other organizations across the country seeking to educate consumers about signing up for insurance through the state and federal insurance exchanges. They provide an easy way for organizers to quickly blast out information about costs, eligibility and other information required to sign up. They also can address qualifications for premium subsidies. Social media increasingly have become a vital component for exchanges and other enrollment-oriented groups to target younger consumers. Signing up a large share of younger and healthier people is considered crucial in holding down premiums for exchange health plans.

Even more established healthcare organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation are using social media to get the word out about the healthcare reform law. The foundation drew readers to link to a Q&A section on its website via this tweet: “Can I buy insurance in the marketplace without a green card? Find this & other FAQs on the ACA here.”

For exchanges and other groups trying to sign people up for ACA coverage, social media have the advantage of being accessible to lower-income people who may lack a personal computer at home but often have Internet-enabled smartphones. But they are still no substitute for old-fashioned, face-to-face contact in encouraging people to disclose personal information and pay a premium to get health insurance they may not feel they need—especially Latinos and other minorities who may not trust impersonal online appeals, officials say.

“In terms of the connection, when you're talking to someone in person, on their couch, about their struggles to get access to healthcare, nothing comes close to that,” said Tiffany Hogue, statewide healthcare campaign coordinator for the Texas Organizing Project, a not-for-profit group that seeks to increase healthcare access in Texas, where nearly 25% of the under-65 adult population is uninsured, the highest percentage in the nation according to Census data.

Covered California hosted interactive Q&A sessions to engage consumers, and so far, more than 100,000 people have completed prescreenings to sign up for coverage on the California exchange.The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative created ads featuring diverse consumers with various health issues to encourage uninsured Coloradans to enroll in a health plan through the state exchange.

Enroll America is banking heavily on Internet advertising, including social media, to reach the organization's target audience—the young and low-income families—and has spent $5 million on digital ads for the next three months.While social media can reach a larger audience faster than volunteers knocking on doors or through community events, officials from the Texas Organizing Project note that it's just one tool that should be used to augment broader outreach efforts.But in a state the size of Texas, reaching rural populations person by person is a daunting task. So Hogue and her staff have turned to social media to deliver their message and help prepare people to sign up through the federally run exchange. Texas is one of 36 states that decided not to offer their own exchanges, so it's relying on the federal online marketplace. They hope to reach both younger and older Texans via social media.

Exchanges and other groups are using social media to inform consumers that they can apply for insurance through the online exchanges, as well as to educate them about the range of health plan options available. Consumers who use social media are already more comfortable with technology, and that comfort level is a boon for organizers. The time consumers spend online getting information about exchange enrollment can make them more comfortable when the time comes to log onto an exchange website or portal and actually sign up, Hogue says. Without that preparation, the exchange sites can be intimidating, especially for older people who aren't computer-savvy.

Hogue and her colleagues steer uninsured Texans to TOP's website, which includes an income eligibility table so visitors can better understand the plans available and the costs involved. The website then points them toward the federal HealthCare.gov site. Unfortunately for thousands of Texans and residents of other states relying on the federal exchange for information and enrollment, the first several weeks have been frustrating as technological glitches and malfunctions have impeded their attempts to enroll.

TOP reported good turnout for two online town halls this year that provided information about the healthcare reform law and guidance on what information will be needed for enrollment.

Similarly, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative just announced a new exchange plan enrollment campaign in that state utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. They've borrowed from the famous “Got Milk?” campaign and will be posting photos of diverse consumers—a mother with her toddler, a mountain climber, a teen sports fanatic and a set of college fraternity brothers. Each photo carries the Twitter hashtag #GotInsurance.

The Colorado initiative's goals are to raise awareness about the state-run exchange and make sure people are prepared to enroll, said Adam Fox, the organization's director of strategic engagement. They're focusing on reaching women, young adults and families. Nearly 14% of the state's population is uninsured, a total of more than 700,000 residents, based on Census data.

Officials at Enroll America, a not-for-profit that is conducting a national awareness campaign around enrollment, has spent $5 million on three months of online advertising and also uses social media. One concept Enroll America is considering is based on Reddit, the website that features users hosting virtual question-and-answer sessions. Users express their opinions and rate submissions by voting them up or down. The votes can help filter out false information being spread on the Internet, while giving credibility to responses provided by experts. Pro-ACA groups see a big need for this type of Internet fact-checking.


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Medicare Fraud Remains Rampant, Audacious

Medicare Fraud Remains Rampant, Audacious | Senior Topics | Scoop.it

 

"Last week, the Department of Justice announced the sentencing of one of many Medicare fraud perpetrators—this time, former Los Angeles pastor Charles Agbu, 58. Agbu owned a medical equipment supply company, and he bribed doctors to give him fake prescriptions for “expensive, highly specialized power wheelchairs” (that their patients usually didn’t need, or even end up receiving), and then submitted claims for those wheelchairs to Medicare. He paid about $900 per wheelchair, wholesale, but billed Medicare for $6,000 each.

By doing this, the federal prosecutors said, Agbu and his co-conspirators cost the government $11 million. Agbu pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges and was sentenced to seven years and change in prison and a hefty fine. While Agbu’s scheme is a particularly colorful one that raises several unique questions (Really, a man of the church? And just how fancy were those power wheelchairs?), Agbu certainly isn’t alone.

Federal inspectors found that 481 of 1,600 randomly visited Medicare-billing businesses did not even exist—but not before those 481 businesses submitted $237 million in bills.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new task force in 2009 called the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). A new dedicated website, StopMedicareFraud.gov, featured optimistic messages like “War on fraud goes high-tech” and “Seniors learn and teach each other to battle fraud.” The Affordable Care Act, says the HHS,would also help the government fight fraud by putting more people in the position of policing it, and also by increasing sentences of people convicted of big-ticket fraud. HEAT has had an impact: This past May, the government announced a coordinated takedown of 89 people in eight cities who have allegedly conspired to submit a total of $223 million in fraudulent billing.

 

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Seniors Going Social: Benefits that Social Media Proffers to the Elderly

Seniors Going Social: Benefits that Social Media Proffers to the Elderly | Senior Topics | Scoop.it
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter might have been considered as the domain of the young and the tech-savvy until now, but not anymore.

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