Information from Norm Sherman, Florida CSARC SE Florida Liaison & Outreach Coordinator, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (11/14)
1. Medicare Part B Standard Amount Reimbursement - Update - In my last update I indicated there were eligible members who did not receive their Medicare Part B Standard Amount Reimbursement. Unfortunately, the list of such members has grown. Why? In some cases, the members are snowbirds, and the post office was instructed not to forward their mail but return it to sender. In other cases, where members have been living full-time in Florida, there is no easy answer. However, the good news is that eventually, this group of non-receivers will get reimbursed. When? I am being told sometime in November or early December.
2. Social Security - Your Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) income will increase by 1.7 percent. This cost-of-living-increase adjustment (COLA) will begin in January 2015. If you are a SSI beneficiary, increase payments will begin December 31, 2014...As you know, your premiums for Medicare Part B are deducted from your Social Security checks. In 2015, the standard amount remains at $104.90, while the Medicare deductible also remains at $147.
3. Marsh (Mercer) Catastrophic Major Medical (CMM) Insurance - As a reminder, this policy is a private one administered by Mercer, which many of you purchased through NYSUT or AFSA many years ago when you were working in the school system. It has nothing to do with the Fund benefit, Catastrophic Stop-Loss Supplemental CSA Medical Benefit...Mercer recently sent a Medicare mandated letter to those policy holders who purchased their policy through NYSUT and will be 65 or older, answering questions about the holder's drug coverage under this policy. The letter was intended strictly to be informative. Keep in mind, Mercer's drug coverage kicks in only when you met the deductible ($10,000, $15,000 or $25,000) and will reimburse you up to 100% for reasonable and customary charges for out of pocket expenses.
4. Outpatient Mental Health Services - Recently, Medicare Part B has expanded its coverage of outpatient mental health services to help its beneficiaries with depression and other needs. Medicare will now pay its portion (about 80%) of the cost of certain patient counseling such as group therapy and family counseling, while your supplement pays the rest. Part B will also cover service for treatment of inappropriate alcohol and drug use. Of course, the mental health professionals giving the treatment, have to accept the Medicare assignment. To locate a mental health care professional that accepts Medicate, go online to medicare.gov/physiciancompare and type in your zip code or city and state, then enter the type of professional (psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social worker and clinical nurse specialists you want to locate in the "What are you searching for?" box. You can also get this information by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227.
5. Signs of a Stroke - If you can spot someone having a stroke and call 911 immediately, there is much better chance that the stroke is treatable and beatable. Signs of a stroke:
a) Face Drooping - One side of the face is drooping or numb.
b) Arm Weakness - One arm is weak or numb.
c) Speech Difficulty - Speech is slurred.
If someone is exhibiting any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately, even if any of these symptoms goes away.