By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald
Medicare can be confusing for some.
However, there are people available to help educate others on their Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.
On Monday, Mahaska Health Partnership played host to a free Medicare enrollment event lasting all day. This event will continue today.
Becky Groff, program development coordinator with the Senior Health Insurance Information Program's Des Moines office, said people on Medicare can review their prescription drug coverage annually.
“We're here today with our SHIIP volunteers to meet with people and help them understand their options to make sure they aren't paying more than they need to and that they're not going to have a lot of unexpected trouble getting their medicine,” explained Groff.
People can be on Medicare if they are 65 or on their 25th month of disability, said Groff. People who are getting “extra help” and/or are living in nursing homes can review their prescription drug coverage any time, Groff added. Those with kidney failure may also qualify for Medicare, said Groff.
Groff and the volunteers were helping people understand their unique situations during Monday's enrollment event.
“There are so many variables in the plans and the options that the plans offer that it is really important that people look at their medicine, their pharmacy, against the plans to see what's best for them,” Groff said.
It takes about an hour for individuals and two hours for couples to look at these options.
The volunteers for the enrollment event went through a significant amount of training. Groff noted that SHIIP volunteers go through six days of training, plus a certification exam and 18 hours of annual re-education to keep up on changes impacting Medicare.
Medicare prescription drug open enrollment is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, explained Groff.
So, what can happen if individuals or couples choose not to act on these Medicare plans?
“It can cost you a lot of money or you may not get the drugs you need,” said Groff.
MHP is one of 129 volunteer sponsor organizations across Iowa, Groff said, adding that there is no gain to the hospital. She also noted that SHIIP does not push people toward any plan or agent.
“We have to stay neutral,” she said. “Our job is to help people understand their options so that they have the best coverage at the least cost.”
Those who would like to make an appointment with a SHIIP volunteers can call (641) 672-3342.
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.