Since Spring is identified with renewal, growth and all that, let’s talk about Medicare. (I know, smooth transition.) Medicare can seem pretty straight forward; or it can seem like a convoluted mess. Usually some of both apply. However, you don’t have to try and navigate it all on your own. As mentioned last time, there are folks who can help make sense out of all the various parts of Medicare. Let’s look at it in a little more detail.
SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors) is a service provided through the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, and provides trained staff at our local offices. And while SHIBA may also cover other aspects of insurance, we’re talking now about Medicare, so…
If any of you have come to our offices to get help with Medicare Part D (prescription coverage) enrollment, then you’ve met these folks. Part D is only part of the picture, as SHIBA staff also help navigate other areas like Medicare Supplemental plans, enrollment in Part A and B — and can even explain what all the alphabet soup means.
It might also be worth noting that Medicare Part C (known as Advantage Plans) is currently unavailable in Pacific County — and if you had one you’re well aware of that.
Other areas of possible exploration could vary from Medicare Savings Plans that help pay Part B premiums (if you financially qualify), to interpreting information received in the mail. Of course, you can always go to www.medicare.gov and find a ton of information, but if you’re looking for real people who live locally and can help with all this — why not? SHIBA folks are here to do just that. Call either office at the end of this column and see what we — together — can do.
Maybe this type of help interests you in another way..Does learning to help others find their way through all this interest you? SHIBA is always on the lookout for volunteers, and training is provided. For a general overview, you can go to www.insurance.wa.gov, enter SHIBA in the search space and take a look.
There are opportunities for volunteers in both north and south Pacific County, so if you want to help and this particular arena interests you, contact Tom Akerlund at 360-642-3634, extension 14, or toll free at 888-571-6558. You can also email him at email@example.com. Tom is the SHIBA Volunteer Coordinator and will glad to answer questions and explain the program.
So whether you want to volunteer or just need some help getting through your own insurance stuff, gives us a call.
How about some reminders? They work great — when I remember.
It’s been a while since we looked at some helpful websites, and with more and more folks heading online to get information, more — and easier to navigate — sites become available. Periodically, I’m on these sites — both professionally and personally, and I’ve found them to be really helpful.
First, let’s look at www.washingtonlawhelp.org. This is a great site for legal information, downloadable forms and covers a huge variety of issues. It’s easy to move around in and has a lot of point-and-click links that can quickly narrow your search. One example is the Seniors section, and you’ll find forms for POA’s and DPOA’s (Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney — yes, they are different), long-term care assistance, etc. The housing section covers tenant rights, foreclosures, mobile home park tenants’ information and so on. This is a very informative site.
Don’t need legal info? How about Medicare questions—or even enrolling online? Go to www.medicare.gov. You can also look for information on Part D (prescriptions), Medicare Savings Programs and more. Want to know what Medicare covers? Doesn’t cover? What about supplemental insurance to cover what Medicare doesn’t? Lots to look at and lots to use.
And what about senior housing — including retirement residences, Assisted Livings, Nursing Facilities, Adult Family Homes, apartments, etc? Instead of digging through every community phonebook you can find, go online to www.seniorhousinglocator.org. Another helpful site.
Let’s not forget our own site at www.o3a.org. Who we are and what we do is covered, from Family Caregiver Support, including Relatives As Parents, to an online directory, and summaries of what we can do to help you, advocate for you or simply help you navigate the sometimes tangled forest of social services.
Now, how about a person-to-person informational event? Ocean Beach Hospital and O3A (us) are putting on a free 6-week workshop for Chronic Pain Self-management. Before your eyes cross at the 6-week part, know that it’s about 2½ hours a session and is held on consecutive Thursdays — beginning April 17th, at Ocean Beach Hospital. So, for 2½ hours a week what can be done? Lots. If you have a primary or secondary diagnosis of chronic pain, you are well aware of how much effort is often needed to just get through the day.
The goal is to help folks manage their symptoms and so maintain a healthy and active life. Some of the diagnoses these workshops have dealt with are Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, persistent headaches, MS, and diabetic neuropathy, among others.
Not being a medical type, I can’t dig deep into detail; but what I can do is let you know that a lot of folks have gone through the workshop — and came out better the other side. A good deal no matter how you look at it. And, as mentioned, it’s FREE.
For information or to register, call 503-791-1569, or 866-582-1487.
Whether you’re looking on line or working face-to-face in a workshop, information is only helpful if you have it. Good luck and happy hunting!
Information & Assistance: Long Beach: 642-3634, 888-571-6558; Raymond: 942- 2177, 888-571-6557, www.o3a.org