HDC and CMS re Health Insurance

MEI’s Home Dialysis Central has published a blog post on Medicare Advantage Plan Pros & Cons – and a Fix for Buyers’ Remorse. The post includes a comparison of costs between Medicare Advantage (“MA”) and “Original Medicare,” types of MA plans, advantages and disadvantages of MA plans, and a discussion of how Medigap interacts with each. Find the post at https://homedialysis.org/news-and-research/blog/415-medicare-advantage-plan-pros-&-cons-and-a-fix-for-buyer-remorse.

CMS has also recently added an email bulletin on What Partners Need to Know Now about Health Insurance Coverage during the Pandemic. For basic information the bulletin recommends the CMS COVID-19 Partner Resources page at https://www.cms.gov/outreach-education/partner-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-partner-resources and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page at https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/education-campaign/index.html. It also recommends CDC’s new Community-Based Organizations COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/toolkits/community-organization.html, the February 15 to May 15, 2021 Special Enrollment Period for individuals and families to enroll in the health insurance coverage they need (see https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2021-special-enrollment-period-response-covid-19-emergency), and the CMS Roadmaps to Better Care in up to nine different languages at https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/OMH/equity-initiatives/c2c/consumerresources/roadmap-to-better-care.

2021 Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period

CMS has announced a Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period for people having difficulty finding health insurance, spanning February 15-May 15, 2021. For details see https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2021-special-enrollment-period-response-covid-19-emergency. Rules and procedures can be very complicated. Your dialysis facility Social Worker may be able to provide help or direct you to other assistance. You can also connect to free detailed, unbiased advice on navigating the health insurance labyrinth, tailored to your specific situation, from a trained expert in health insurance options, rules, and procedures, at https://www.shiptacenter.org/.

Rules and procedures also vary by state; a quick overview for the six states in ESRD Networks 16 and 18 follows:

Alaska: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/alaska-state-health-insurance-exchange/. No apparent Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period, but a “qualifying event” (https://www.healthinsurance.org/obamacare/qualifying-events-that-can-get-you-coverage/) may create one for you.

California: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/california-state-health-insurance-exchange/. State-specific Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period February 1-May 15, 2021.

Idaho: For general details, see https://www.healthinsurance.org/idaho-state-health-insurance-exchange/. No Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period, but some insurance plans are open all year (https://www.healthinsurance.org/idaho-short-term-health-insurance/#renew), and if you have a “qualifying event” (https://www.healthinsurance.org/obamacare/qualifying-events-that-can-get-you-coverage/), you can enroll anytime.

Montana: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/montana-state-health-insurance-exchange/. No apparent Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period, but a “qualifying event” (https://www.healthinsurance.org/obamacare/qualifying-events-that-can-get-you-coverage/) will create one just for you.

Oregon: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/oregon-state-health-insurance-exchange/. No apparent Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period, but a “qualifying event” (https://www.healthinsurance.org/obamacare/qualifying-events-that-can-get-you-coverage/), including loss of employer-sponsored health insurance, can create one just for you.

Washington: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/washington-state-health-insurance-exchange/. Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period February 15-May 15, 2021.

RSN Podcast on Paying for Treatment

The Renal Support Network KidneyTalk program presents a recorded podcast on Paying for Dialysis or Transplant. Founder Lori Hartwell asks Beth Witten, LCSW, for an overview of her wealth of knowledge about the complexities of health insurance coverage of kidney disease. Find this podcast at https://www.rsnhope.org/kidneytalk/paying-for-dialysis-or-transplant/, and a catalog of past KidneyTalk recordings at https://www.rsnhope.org/kidneytalk-podcast-show-kidney-disease/.

2/10 Ticket to Work Webinar

Employment Options will present a free February 10, 2021 webinar on Common Benefit Questions in the SSA Ticket to Work Program. Topics include who is eligible for Ticket to Work, the difference between SSDI and SSI, rules for working while on SSDI, rules for working while on SSI, common questions and myths, how to report your earnings, and the stages of Ticket to Work. Find more information and register at https://www.myemploymentoptions.com/webinar-registration-page/.

1/27 SSA Ticket to Work Webinar

The Social Security Administration will present a January 27, 2021 Work Incentive Seminar Event webinar on Choosing a Service Provider That’s Right for You. The webinar will cover the free services and support available to eligible people with disabilities and share how you can evaluate the available service providers. Find more information and register at https://choosework.ssa.gov/wise.

12/16 SSA Work Incentive Webinar

The Social Security Adminstration will present a December 16, 2020 WISE (Work Incentive Seminar Event) webinar on Ticket to Work and Mental Health. The webinar will include SSA’s Ticket to Work Program, Ticket Program service providers, managing a job search, battling the winter blues, and how working will impact your SSDI income. WISE webinars are usually held every fourth Wednesday; stay informed about them at https://choosework.ssa.gov/wise. Find out more about the SSA Ticket to Work program and other SSA job search aids at https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2020-12-02-start-job-search-at-december-career-fair. Find details and register for the December 16 event at https://choosework.ssa.gov/wise/eventdetails.

Fall 2020 Patient Newsletters

The Network 16 and Network 18 Patient Newsletters for Fall 2020 have been posted to the Network websites, in both English and Spanish. They include articles on the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (which is open through December 7, 2020), Vocational Rehabilitation, and Dialysis Facility Compare, plus short notes on heart health and fluid management, filing a grievance, and (free) subscriptions to the Network Newsletters and blog. The Network 18 Newsletter also includes a short note on volunteering to help the Network improve patient care. Find the English and Spanish versions of the latest Newsletters at https://www.nwrn.org/patients-a-family/ptedres/quarterly-patient-newsletter.html for Network 16, and https://esrdnetwork18.org/patients/newsletters/ for Network 18.

11/23 ESRD Paperwork Reduction Comments Due

CMS has filed a Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) Notice to solicit comments on a proposal to renew its approval to collect information on the application for Medicare coverage for new ESRD patients, and on the general application for Medicare coverage.  No changes to the forms are contemplated, but the PRA requires periodic renewals.  Comments are due by November 23, 2020.  Find the Federal Register notice at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/24/2020-21095/agency-information-collection-activities-proposed-collection-comment-request.

11/10+ RNS Hope Week Online

The Renal Support Network has been offering its free Annual Patient Education Meeting for kidney patients and their families in the Los Angeles area for 27 years. With COVID-19 complicating things this year, RSN did what only Lori Hartwell could have imagined doing – they went global and online, and made it five times as big! So this year, RSN Hope Week will span November 10-14, 2020 with a different theme each day: CKD on day 1, Dialysis on day 2, Transplant on day 3, All Stages of Care on day 4, and Parenting Children with CKD on day 5.

Find RSN’s press release introducing the week at https://www.rsnhope.org/press-releases/renal-support-networks-27th-annual-patient-education-meeting-goes-virtual/. Find a short version of the agenda below. It’s page 1 of their flyer, which includes a full page describing each day – find the full 6-page flyer HERE. Find brief vitae and snapshots of the full faculty at https://www.rsnhope.org/hope-week-faculty/. And register at https://www.rsnhope.org/hope-week-rsns-national-online-patient-meeting/ – there’s also a short version of the agenda on that page.