New Medicare cards mailed to members |

New Medicare cards mailed to members

Staff report/Steamboat Pilot & Today

For the purposes of identity protection, recent legislation requires the removal of the Social Security number from all Medicare cards. New cards will automatically be mailed to members, in waves throughout the country, between April 2018 and April 2019.

The new cards will be paper, to make it easier for providers to process, and the cards will no longer have a number based on Social Security numbers. They will, instead, have a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier — a unique, randomly generated series of 11 uppercase letters and numbers designed to reduce the risk of identify theft.

There will be no change to current coverage and benefits with the new card. Destroy cards after new card arrives.

• If needed, verify address on file with Social Security by contacting Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, visiting or going to a local SSA office.

• Unless members have generated the inquiry, don’t give out personal information. Medicare will not ask for that information.

• This new card is free. Medicare will not ask for payment.

• Members should guard their card. Share Medicare card information only with insurer, pharmacists and health care providers.

• Cards arrive at different times. Check status at

Those who need help signing up for Medicare, have been the victim of Medicare fraud, errors or abuse or to find out if they qualify for low-income assistance with Medicare, contact the local division of the Colorado State Health Insurance Assistance Program at 970-819- 6401.

Avoid mosquito bites and West Nile virus

Northwest Colorado Health advises precautions against mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus.

·         Drain standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty old tires, cans, flower pots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels and toys where puddles occur.

·         Limit outdoor activities or take precautions during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

·         Dress in long sleeves and pants in active mosquito areas.

·         Insect repellents containing DEET are effective in repelling mosquitoes. Always follow label instructions and precautions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not using insect repellent on children younger than two months old and not using repellents containing more than 30 percent DEET on children. For tips on safely using insect repellents on children, go to (type “insect repellent” in the search box).

West Nile virus is rare, but if you have symptoms including high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, contact your health care provider immediately. For more information, go to  

Precautions advised during tick season  

Northwest Colorado Health advises precautions against ticks and tick-borne diseases during spring and summer months. Ticks are commonly found in wooded or brushy areas with tall grass. They may also inhabit rustic mountain cabins where chipmunks and other rodents may have visited. Recommendations to prevent tick bites the following.

  • Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Avoid walking through high grass and bushy areas and sitting on logs or against trees. Use a blanket or tarp when resting or picnicking on the ground.
  • Use repellants labeled for ticks. If you spend a lot of time in tick habitat, consider wearing Permethrin treated clothing (never apply Permethrin to skin).
  • Do thorough tick checks on yourself, your children and your pets.

Ticks should be removed from skin as soon as possible. If you remove a tick from a person or a pet, wash your hands immediately. If you become ill after a tick bite or exposure to ticks, seek prompt medical attention. For more information and resources, visit

Residents advised to protect themselves from hantavirus

Northwest Colorado Health advises precautions when cleaning areas inhabited by rodents. Hantavirus is a rare but potentially fatal respiratory illness carried primarily by deer mice. People can be infected by breathing in dirt and dust contaminated with deer mouse urine and feces. Hantavirus can begin one to six weeks after exposure. Early symptoms are fatigue, fever and muscle aches and may also include headaches, dizziness, chills and abdominal problems. If a person experiences these symptoms and has potentially been exposed to rodents, they should seek medical attention immediately. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning areas inhabited by rodents. Do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming. Spray rodent urine, droppings or nesting materials with disinfectant or a bleach/water solution before wiping up. Then disinfect the entire area. For more information, go to

Choose When helps pay for long-acting, reversible contraceptives

Choose When is a community-funded project that is helping women in the area get IUDs and hormonal implants at low or no cost. IUDs and implants are long-acting, reversible and safe. Call Northwest Colorado Health at 970-879-1632 or Planned Parenthood at 970-879-2212 for more information.

Program helps pregnant women quit tobacco

Northwest Colorado Health’s Baby and Me Tobacco Free program helps expectant moms quit tobacco with prenatal smoking cessation sessions and incentives. Smoking during pregnancy increases risk of miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects and infant death. Program participants who quit smoking, remain smoke free and attend monthly smoking cessation sessions during pregnancy and for a year after their baby is born receive vouchers for free diapers. For more information, call 970-871-7618.

Aging Well hosts Tai Chi for Arthritis classes

Tai chi classes designed to improve and help prevent symptoms of arthritis are held Tuesdays at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. Individuals new to tai chi are encouraged to attend a Beginning Tai Chi for Arthritis class with instructor Susan Shoemaker from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. A Tai Chi for Arthritis class with instructor Nancy Smith is held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Northwest Colorado Health’s Aging Well program hosts the classes, designed to help participants improve their strength, flexibility and balance for better mobility and less pain. There is a $3 suggested donation per class, but no one is turned away due to inability to pay. For more information about Aging Well fitness classes and services for older adults in Routt and Moffat counties, visit or call 970-871-7676.

Weight loss kiosk is located at Northwest Colorado Health

Weigh and Win is a free community program aimed at reducing obesity rates in Colorado. It provides cash incentives to individuals who reach their weight loss goals.

Participants weigh in every 90 days at a kiosk located in the lobby of Northwest Colorado Health, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101, in Steamboat Springs. The kiosk is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Participants can receive daily emails or texts with tips on nutrition, exercise and overcoming barriers. A Weigh and Win Team Challenge, which will take place through April 30, encourages groups of four to eight people to pool their efforts and compete for prizes.

Enroll in Weigh and Win at the kiosk or at For more information, visit

Take precautions to avoid foodborne illness

Each year, one in six Americans becomes ill as a result of consuming foods or beverages contaminated with disease-causing microbes or pathogens. Northwest Colorado Health recommends the following precautions to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

• Always wash hands with soap and water before preparing food.

• Cook meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to measure internal temperature of meat.

• Wash hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.

• Refrigerate leftovers that won’t be eaten within four hours. Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature.

• Wash produce in running tap water. Remove outermost leaves of a lettuce or cabbage. Bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of a fruit or vegetable. Take care not to contaminate produce while slicing on a cutting board, and don’t leave cut produce out for many hours.

• Keep food away from flies and insects.

Common symptoms of foodborne illness include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and chills. Avoid preparing food for others if you have these symptoms.

Pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe infections and should not consume undercooked animal products. Contact a healthcare provider if foodborne illness is suspected. For more information, visit

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