Strokes. Can they be prevented? What is a stroke? Am I at risk for a stroke? How can I tell if I am having a stroke? What does Medicare cover?
Anyone at any age can have a stroke but the likelihood of strokes increases with age. Immediate treatment can minimize the long term effects of the attack.
Can Strokes Be Prevented?
The old saw that prevention is the best medicine is good advice. Before we look at what a stroke is and how it should be treated let’s review preventive measures.
Strokes threaten millions of lives — every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke. And, on average, one American dies from a stroke every 4 minutes, taking 130,000 lives a year and making it the 5th-leading cause of death in our country. And, too, among survivors, it can cause severe long-term disability and handicap.
The facts are that strokes are largely preventable, treatable and beatable – but action is required. In fact, research shows that 80% of all strokes are preventable by taking action. – Washington Times
An active, healthy lifestyle is the best prevention. If you are heavy, lose weight. Stop smoking. Monitor your blood and cholesterol levels.
Any of these conditions puts you at risk for a stroke.
Many cases of hypertension or hyperlipidemia can be controlled with diet and exercise, but if you need more help your doctor may prescribe medication. Have regular check ups. Monitor your blood pressure at home.
What Is A Stroke?
Strokes are classified in different ways.
- Ischemic (ih-skee-mik): The artery gets blocked, often by a clot, and this prevents adequate blood flow. It is responsible for 87 percent of all strokes.
- Hemorrhagic (hem-ur-ajic): An artery leaks or ruptures and the resultant leaked blood puts pressure on the neurons, causing damage. This can result from dangerously high blood pressures that overwhelm the blood vessel walls, chronic high blood pressures that cause wear and tear over time, and/or weakened blood vessels.
- “Mini-stroke:” A temporary blockage caused by a clot. This is also referred to as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Unlike a stroke, the symptoms resolve and there is no permanent injury to the brain. A TIA is a warning sign for a future stroke and must be taken seriously: more than 30 percent of people who have a TIA end up having a major stroke within 1 year if they do not receive treatment. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke. If you have a TIA, your health care team can find the cause and take steps to prevent a major stroke.
The type of stroke you have often determines the treatment as well as long term effects. When the stroke victim is diagnosed and treated quickly the chances of recovery are much improved. Triage in the hospital ER will determine if the patient needs a clot busting injection or surgery.
Am I Having A Stroke?
Most of the time you will know something is wrong but it may take people around you to see the visible signs and call for emergency care. How do you know if you are having a stroke? Think F.A.S.T.
- FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately (even if they resolve)
If you are with someone and see any of the above symptoms do not hesitate to call 911.
Does Medicare Cover Treatment for Strokes?
Medicare does in fact include emergency treatment for your stroke. Medicare Part B covers ambulance transport and ER care. Your 2016 Part B calendar year deductible is $166. Once the deductible is satisfied Medicare pays 80% of approved charges and you are responsible for the remaining 20%.
That 20% is not capped. You pay until you are better, run out of money or die.
Medigap plans F and G will pay the 20% remainder after Medicare pays their portion.
If you are admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, your stay will be covered under Medicare Part A. Your Medicare per admission Part A deductible for 2016 is $1288. Supplement plans F, G and N pay this deductible for you.
Not all hospital admissions are as an inpatient. If you are admitted for observation the charges are covered under Part B. If you are then discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or rehab unit, Medicare does NOT pay for this care. In order for SNF or rehab to be covered by Medicare you must have had a 3 day stay as an inpatient.
If your post discharge stay qualifies under Medicare rules but exceeds 60 days you will be responsible for a daily coinsurance of $322 for days 61 – 90. That amount doubles to $644 per day for stays lasting longer than 90 days and up to 180 days.
All Medigap plans cover your Part A coinsurance and extends that coverage up to 365 days lifetime.
Private long term care insurance, short term care insurance and home health care are types of policies that should be explored to supplement your Medicare coverage.
Georgia Medicare Plans specializes in finding Medigap coverage that fits your needs and budget. Bob Vineyard has more than 40 years experience in the health insurance industry. In addition, he is also a Medicare beneficiary covered by original Medicare and a Medigap plan.
With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia it is impossible to find the right plan without expert guidance. We shop the market for you and show you the best plans based on your needs.
Click the image above for an instant Medigap quote. Compare up to 30 plans side by side. A free report showing all plans in your area will follow by email.
I have friends who have had strokes. Some have mostly recovered, while others would be considered an invalid requiring round the clock home health care. Medicare only covers a portion of the bills and provides no coverage for care that is not medically necessary.
Without additional insurance you and your family will bear the cost of attending to your activities of daily living.
Additional Resources For Learning About Strokes
Medicare Coverage for Skilled Nursing Facility
Long Term Care – Medicare, Medicaid and More
National Stroke Association – Medicare Basics
Caring – Will Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Long Term Care?
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