What is Open Enrollment?

What is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment- also known as the Annual Coordinated Election Period, is typically between October 15 through December 7. This is typically the only acceptable timeframe in which you can either change your Medicare private drug plan and/or your Medicare health plan for the following year. This is also the time to enroll in Part D if you did not join it during the Initial Enrollment Period. This enrollment ends on December 15th so that the changes can be implemented beginning on January 1st.  Here is a step-by-step guide of what to keep in mind when open enrollment starts:

Review your current Medicare health and drug coverage. If you are dissatisfied with your coverage, you need to make the changes during the open enrollment period.

  • If you have Original Medicare, then look up the costs and benefits of Medicare for the upcoming year.
  • If you have the Medicare Advantage Plan or a Part D plan, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from your plan. Review the notices for any changes in the plan’s costs, benefits, or rules for the upcoming year.
  • Even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare Plan, it is essential to look at other Medicare options within your area because other plans may better suit your needs for the upcoming year. An example would be to check to see if there is another Medicare plan that has better health and/or drug coverage at a lower price. Research shows that people with Part D could lower their costs by looking at and choosing different plans each and every year. There could be another Part D plan in your area that covers drugs you take with fewer restrictions or lower prices.

If you need help, you can get it.

  • Use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool if you need help finding Part D plans. The finder tool compares plans based on the drugs you need, costs, and the pharmacy you use.
  • If you want to join the Medicare Advantage Plan, call 1-800-MEDICARE to find out which plans are in your area. You will receive a list of plans’ websites or you can call them to see which plan best fits your need.
  • If you research different plans online, also call the plan itself to confirm what you have learned and make sure the information is correct. Also, make sure the plan includes the doctors and hospitals that you visit are in the same network. Confirm that the plan covers all the drugs you take and the pharmacies that you frequent. Write down everything about the conversation if you call, including the date, representative’s name, and any outcomes or next steps you may need to take. The information may help protect you in case a plan representative gives you wrong information.

The best way to enroll in a plan is to do it directly through Medicare.

  • Enrolling in a new plan directly through Medicare is the best way to protect yourself if there are any issues with enrollment. Again, if you speak to a representative, write everything down about that conversation to refer too if there are any issues with enrollment.
  • Before you enroll in a new plan, remember to confirm all the details and information about your new plan with the plan itself.

If you are unhappy with a Medicare Advantage Plan you choose during the open enrollment period, you can disenroll from it and join Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP).

  • The MADP occurs every year from January 1 through February 14, with changes taking effect on the first of the following month.

Look up if the medical practices you visit will accept the Medicare Plan you choose.

  • At Gonzaba, we accept all of the Medicare Plans. It is important to us that you clearly understand the Medicare plans and get the help you need in choosing the best plan for you.

Visit Gonzaba’s website to learn more about the Medicare Guide and what services we offer at our different medical group locations.

Heat Awareness Tips

Heat Awareness Tips

Heat Awareness TipsDid you know that in the last ten years, extreme heat has killed more people than any other weather condition? As summer approaches and temperatures rise, it is important to be informed about the dangers of heat. Texas summers are hot, and temperatures can reach dangerous levels. Heat-related illnesses such as dehydration and exhaustion can rapidly progress and affect anyone at any age. Below are four tips you can use to beat the heat the summer and remember to contact your doctor if you are suffering from heat exhaustion.

1. Drink water and rest.
Even at 80 degrees, heat can cause problems for us and our bodies. When we are out in the sun for prolonged periods of time, our bodies begin to use water at a much faster rate than usual. To avoid dehydration and exhaustion, make sure to drink plenty of water and take breaks away from direct sunlight.

2. Recognize signs of heat illness.
Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated? It is important to recognize the signs of heat illness, so you know what to do to in case you or someone you know start to show symptoms.
Signs of heat illness are:
• Heavy sweating
• Confusion
• Dizziness
• Hangover-like headaches
• Muscle weakness
• Cramps
• Nausea

If any of these signs are present, immediately find a cool area, drink water, and call 911 if needed.

3. Identify high-risk situations.
Every year, we hear stories of children and pets being left in a car and suffering from fatal heat illness. During extreme heat, the temperature inside a vehicle can increase from 80 degrees to 99 degrees as quickly as 10 minutes. Children and pets left in extreme heat can quickly lose consciousness and overheat. Children or pets should never be left in the car. If you see a child or pet locked inside a vehicle, call for help and get them out of the vehicle immediately. Other high-risk situations to look out for are doing physical activity in the sun for extended periods of time, drinking alcohol outside, and being in high elevations during hot days.

4. Be prepared.
The best way to fight the heat is to prepare for it. Stay indoors during the hottest times of the day which is usually around 3 p.m. Make sure to carry water wherever you go. Apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the UVA and UVB rays to prevent sunburn. Wear lightweight clothing with breathable fabrics such as linen or cotton. Eat foods that have water and nutrients in them like fruits and veggies while staying away from salty foods like chips that can cause dehydration.

Knowledge is power when it comes to beating the summer heat. Make sure to drink water and recognize the signs of heat illness to prevent it. Identify and be prepared for high-risk situations. If you feel like you are suffering from a heat illness, please visit any of our Gonzaba Urgent Care Center. For more tips on staying healthy this summer, make an appointment with Gonzaba Medical Group in San Antonio at (210) 921-3800 or visit our website today!

Northwest Medical Center Coming Soon!

For nearly 60 years Gonzaba Medical Group has been the medical innovation pioneer of San Antonio. Starting with a small clinic on the southside, Gonzaba has grown to over seven locations across the city. The Gonzaba Healthcare Model offers all essential healthcare services in one place. This practice provides faster, more efficient results and eliminates trips to the emergency room. The Northwest Medical Complex will offer family medicine, physical therapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and an urgent care clinic.

Gonzaba is revolutionizing healthcare by putting the patient first. Longtime Northwest patient Claire Gallegos has this to say about the new state-of-the-art Northwest facility:

“I am a long-time satisfied patient of Gonzaba Medical Group. The New Gonzaba Northwest Medical Center will bring the very best services under one roof in a modern, convenient location.”

The new Northwest Medical Center is the finest representation of the Gonzaba Model. This 28,065 sq ft medical complex will open in May and will be equipped with the latest healthcare technology, experienced and compassionate medical staff, physicians and specialists, as well as an array of medical services. Here is a sneak peek at what this new location will look like.

5 Daily Habits for a Healthy Heart

5 Things You Should Do Daily for a Healthy Heart –

Most people know that exercise and a healthy diet are good for your heart. But, have you ever wondered what else you should be doing every day to ensure your heart stays in good condition? Below we have listed some daily habits you should start doing if you don’t already.

Eat healthy fats, not trans fats

Not all fats are bad for you, it is important to know the difference between healthy fats and fats you should avoid. The fats that we need in our diets are saturated, poly-saturated and unsaturated fats. One fat that we do not need in our diet is trans-fat. Trans-fat is known for increasing your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke over a lifetime. Trans-fats clog your arteries and raise your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol levels (HDL). Cutting trans-fats out of your diet will improve blood flow throughout your body.

Maintain good dental hygiene

You might be wondering why your dental health has anything to do with your heart health, but a person’s dental health is a good indication of their overall health. The reason behind this is because people who have gum disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. There have been several different clinical studies that show that bacteria in the mouth which is involved with the development of gum disease can eventually move into the bloodstream. Once the bacteria move into the bloodstream that causes an elevation in C-reactive protein, which is a maker of inflammation in the blood vessels. All these changes can increase your risk of heart disease.

Avoid sitting for too long at one time

There have been several studies done over the years that have suggested that sitting down for too long is detrimental to your health despite how much exercise you do. This unwelcome news specifically affects people who sit at a desk job every day. Results of observational studies have shown that people who sat more have a drastic percent increase in both cardiovascular events and death caused by these events.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is the key component of good health. Not getting enough sleep puts you at a higher risk for the cardiovascular disease no matter your age or any other health habits. A research study done showed that adults over the age of 45 who slept fewer than six hours per night were nearly twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack versus people who sleep six to eight hours per night. You should make sleep a priority by getting eight hours of sleep at night.

Avoid smoking & secondhand smoke like your life depends on it (because it does)
Everyone knows how bad smoking is for a person, but secondhand smoke is essentially just as bad. Numerous studies have shown that the risk of developing some sort of heart disease is nearly 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke. The American Heart Association has stated that the exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths. The chemicals that a cigarette smoke emits promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries.

Heart health should be taken seriously, by following these 5 daily practices your heart health can significantly improve. Take care of your heart, it’s the only one you have!

Source sitting: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/01/5-things-to-do-daily-to-keep-your-heart-healthy/