The Many Features of the Medicare Blue Button

Pamela Cannaday by Pamela Cannaday | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/16/2018

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Medicare’s Blue Button is an online tool you can use to access your health information securely. You can decide to share that information with your doctors, loved ones, or anyone else of your choosing. It’s available on the MyMedicare.gov site, which helps you keep track of your Medicare claims, and more.

The Blue Button initiative began during the Markle Foundation Work Group on Consumer Engagement meeting in New York City in January, 2010. The meeting included representatives from the private insurance industry, not-for-profit foundations, and the federal government.  The discussions centered around one simple idea:  give Medicare beneficiaries access to their personal health information to help them make decisions that could improve the quality of their care and health.  Within several years, hundreds of private insurance carriers and health-care providers had followed government agencies such as the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to add functionality similar to the Blue Button to their websites.

How do I find the Medicare Blue Button?

The Medicare Blue Button is located on the MyMedicare.gov web site, a secure portal designed for Medicare beneficiaries. To take advantage of the many features of MyMedicare.gov, including the Blue Button, you need to sign up on your computer or mobile device for a free personal account (more on that below).

Once you have a personal account on MyMedicare.gov, you can check how recently you had preventive services, print out a list of your prescription medications, look up or print your claims, list your emergency contacts, and more.  To get better acquainted with this portal and the Medicare Blue Button, you may wish to take one of the virtual tours that guides you through the MyMedicare.gov site’s features, including the Medicare Blue Button.

What can the Medicare Blue Button do for me?

MyMedicare.gov’s tools can help you manage your health information. It makes it easy for you to perform tasks such as:

  • Download your health information to a secure, personal computer file folder
  • Share your health information with health-care providers
  • Make your records available to loved ones in case of a medical emergency
  • See when you had your last vaccination, health screening, or other preventive services
  • Update or print a list your current prescription medications
  • View your Medicare claims
  • View your current Medicare Summary Notice, which is the notice that people with Original Medicare receive in the mail every 3 months for their Medicare Part A and Part B-covered services
  • Enter or update your emergency contact list
  • Add health care providers to your Favorite Providers list
  • See Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies contracted with Medicare in which you are enrolled (such as a Medicare Advantage plan or a standalone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan) and view limited coverage details.
  • View your current Medicare Part B annual deductible and whether you have met this deductible from the medical expenses you have already paid and, if not, the amount you will yet pay to satisfy the deductible.

From every page in the MyMedicare.gov portal, you can click the Blue Button to download the data.

What is the On the Go report?

The On the Go report is a portable file of your personal health data. The purpose of the On the Go report is to provide you a convenient way to store and review health information with your doctor and caregiver or family member if you so desire. You can download this file and send it to your doctor, your family members, or anyone you want, or you can print out the file and take it with you to doctors’ appointments.

Preparing an On the Go report is easy to do. After you log into your MyMedicare.gov account, click the On the Go Report link to start creating your personal health report. This tool lets you select what details of your health information to include in the report; for example, you might want a list of your allergies and medications.

How secure is my information?

Your information is safe and secure, according to Medicare.gov. Because you must create a personal password when you set up your MyMedicare account, access is restricted. However, there’s always a risk of someone accessing your information when you put this data online. If you have questions about how Medicare secures your personal data, call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY users call 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How do I set up my MyMedicare account so I can use the Blue Button?

Go to the registration site at MyMedicare.gov, and enter your information as indicated. Follow the steps to verify your address and create a user name and password. You’ll need this password every time you log into your MyMedicare account, so make sure it’s one you’ll easily remember, or keep it in a safe place.

What if I need help?

Just click the “live chat” icon on the MyMedicare.gov page.

What if I am enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, a standalone Prescription Drug Plan, or a Medicare Supplement plan?

If you receive your Medicare coverage from a Medicare Advantage plan or a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, the MyMedicare portal shows you only limited health and coverage information.  To view more detailed information about your health coverage electronically, contact your plan to see if the insurance company is participating in the Blue Button initiative. Many insurance companies have secure portals with Blue Button functionality that permits their plan members to access their health and claims information. I hope you found this article helpful. Would you like some help taking a look at your Medicare coverage and seeing what options are available in your area? I’m ready to assist you. There are links below that let you schedule a phone appointment or have information provided by email. Want to compare plans available through eHealth on your own?

Data in this article was checked when the article was written and might not be updated as fast as newer data becomes available.

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