Aging Well October 20

Medicare can be a complex labyrinth to navigate. And with the addition of Medicare Advantage Plans – Medicare coverage through private insurance companies – Medicare recipients have more choices but also another level of complexity and uncertainty.

The Medicare Advantage plans are popular in Oregon where 41% of the folks eligible for Medicare are enrolled in them (the highest percentage in the country). Although there are benefits to Medicare Advantage plans, unlike government programs, private insurance companies can decide not to continue covering certain geographic areas. Unfortunately, but not surprising, several plans are leaving Oregon at the end of this year and will not be renewing beneficiaries’ policies. What is unexpected is the estimated percentage of Medicare Advantage recipients needing to find a new plan: Wasco County 39%, Sherman County, 70%, and Hood River County, 43%.

The enrollment period for the Medicare Advantage plans starts November 15th, so if your insurer is leaving or there are any changes in your Medicare Advantage plan you should have received a letter by now. But Jean Hockman, the Medicare specialist at the Area Agency on Aging, is concerned many folks have not read the correspondence from their insurer and are unaware that their Medicare insurance plan is leaving. If your plan is leaving, you must sign up for a new plan before the end of December to insure continuous coverage. That isn’t much time and the decisions aren’t simple. (What plans does your doctor accept? What does the plan cover? And what is the cost?)

To answer your questions and provide more information, there will be a presentation at the Center on October 28th at 11:00 to explain changes in the Medicare Advantage plans and what your options are. You can also call the Area Agency on Aging at 541-298-4101 on Wednesdays – their Medicare help day.

Klea Espy, manager of the Habitat’s Restore Store in the old liquor building on 6th street, dropped by the Center for breakfast on Saturday and mentioned she is desperately – as in capital D desperately – seeking volunteers. She needs folks for the two shifts 10-1 and 1-4 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. She would prefer men; about 6 foot tall, broad shouldered, and chiseled jaw with masculine good looks. But she will take anyone who knows his or her way around a hardware store or a workshop (or anyone who is breathing – she is Desperate!).

Tonight at the Center, the Sugar Daddies, a popular three piece band, will be performing. And next Tuesday on the 27th the Jazz Generations will be back playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. These are talented performers and at many places, you would have to buy a $7 glass of wine to listen to them. But at the Center it’s all free with donations appreciated. The dancing starts at 7:00 pm and everyone is welcome. And next Sunday is the Center’s turn to host the Jammers from 2:00 – 5:00.

Melodi Johnson, Breast Care Coordinator/Clinical Research Nurse at Celilo, will be the speaker for the Center’s Next Chapter Lecture Series on Tuesday the 27th at 11:00. She will speak on breast health for women of all ages – providing information that will be helpful for mothers, daughters, spouses, etc. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, every woman is encouraged to come!

The answer to last week’s “Remember When” question was “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, the Beatles first #1 hit in America. The first correct answer was from a child of the 60’s herself, Sandy Haechrel. This week’s question goes back another decade to a musical icon of the 50’s. What was Elvis Presley’s first number one hit that stayed at the top of the pop charts for 8 weeks and was the best selling single in 1956?

That is enough of the alphabet soup for one week. Until we meet again, here’s a comment I overheard at the Center that many of us can relate to, “My head writes checks, my body can’t cash”.

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