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Medicare email information incorrect

An email is circulating once again claiming that monthly Medicare Part B premiums will be $247 in 2014. This information is incorrect. 

The premium is set each year calculated to pay for 25 percent of the cost of coverage, based on actual costs from the prior year. No one can predict with precision the premium amount two years in advance; however, Medicare officials keep close watch on the trends and make projections. Current projections for the year 2014 are less than half that amount, according to Medicare’s Office of the Actuary.  Historically, their projections have been reasonably close.

We often get calls about some claim made in a forwarded email about Medicare, usually from a person who is worried about what they read. We encourage callers to check out such information. More often than not, the information is incorrect, or misleading.

The following red flags to alert readers to questionable email information are in a post under special reports on FactCheck.org:

• If the author is anonymous or supposedly a famous person, the reader should be skeptical.

• Messages with spelling errors or many exclamation points have a high likelihood of erroneous content.  

• If the message argues that it is not false (“This is not a hoax!”) it probably is false.

• Often when there is math involved (“You do the math!”), the figures and/or the math are incorrect.

One expert estimates that less than 10 percent of what is circulating at any given time is totally accurate. Around half of all the emails contain a mixture of facts and falsehoods. Unbiased, reputable sources should be sought if you are concerned over what you see.

When it comes to other topics like politics, religion, environmental issues, etc., we can’t help you, but if you want Medicare information from a nonprofit, unbiased source, call the Area VI Agency on Aging at 1-800-266-4188 or 406-883-7284 and ask for a State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor. 

If you question the accuracy of a bill or Medicare Summary Notice, the Senior Medicare Patrol, reached with the same phone numbers as above, can help you.

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