As I write this blog from my office, my children go to school remotely, COVID-19 cases are ridiculously high, people in my county are arguing about masks, potential long waits for prescriptions persist, and Care Answered is advocating for clients attempting to be discharged when COVID-19 positive with nowhere to go.  Will this Groundhog Day ever end?  If you are like me, your household was affected by Omicron, once again holiday festivities were cancelled, and you are just tired.  BUT there is good news!  My family was only affected by what I consider the luxury version of COVID-19: Omicron. Omicron affected us as a bad cold. This COVID-19 variant came on fast but experts say could leave just as quickly. Omicron could shift this pandemic toward an endemic, a new stage that we have the ability to live through. At this point, we understand what we need to do (even know we don’t want to do it anymore). Most importantly, YOU reading this are here in this moment. Thank you for getting though this, reading this and adding to all the good in the world. I appreciate you!

Beyond this, there are important things happening that patients and caregivers should know about in order to successfully navigate through current healthcare situations. There are also good things happening that can help us. So let’s get to it!

Health Care Staff Shortages: This continues to persist and has become even more pronounced since the Omicron variant began to spread. Stay one step ahead by scheduling your appointments early and calling beforehand to confirm, especially if you will be seen in person as opposed to via telehealth. And remember now more than ever, no news is not necessarily good news. We must advocate for ourselves and our loved ones to make sure the test was checked and next steps are being taken by our health care providers. The person who generally gets the mail, makes the calls, checks the scans, calls in the script, as well as the clinicians themselves may be out sick. So be proactive and follow up. In addition, take advantage of your provider’s online portals and portal notes to communicate and know.

Watch this webinar on Knowing Your Rights

Get Your Medications: Due to supply and worker shortages, you may face difficulties getting your medications. (The other day we could not even find cough drops.) If possible, contact your doctor and request another script or a larger supply of your prescriptions (a 60- or 90-day supply versus a 30-day supply, for example) so that you will not come up empty handed when you need your medications. If feasible and appropriate, you may even want to pay out of pocket for any medications that are necessary for your life or quality of life just to make sure you have them even if your insurance may not cover a larger prescription.

Check Your Medicare: Yes, it’s true that open enrollment season for Medicare is over but if you even suspect you may have a special enrollment need (ie going to hospital, rehab, new diagnosis) just call and find out. Take a look at this webinar for information and Medicare Specialist you can talk to for free enrollment assistance.

Watch Webinar on Medicare Udates

No Surprise Billing: Finally for the entire nation, as of January 1, there is a new regulation regarding surprise billing for those privately insured too!  Thank you to the many advocates who worked hard to make this a reality.  “Many Americans fear getting unexpected medical bills, and this law was passed after years of outrage over surprise bills following emergency procedures. The law covers surprise bills resulting from care from out-of-network providers and facilities in emergency and some non-emergency situations, and when out-of-network practitioners provide care at in-network facilities. It also requires providers and facilities to provide easy-to-understand notices explaining billing protections and practices.” This also applies to Medicare Advantage plans.  Those enrolled in Medicare, VA, Medicaid and the like were already protected from surprise billing.

Read more about the No Surprises Act

Have questions or need help? Contact me at [email protected] to schedule a call.