How do you know it’s the end of summer? The leaves falling? The cooler mornings? The football hysteria? No, it’s a mailbox full of solicitations from Medicare insurance plans.
And why? Because October 15th is the start of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period. Since each year the insurance companies can adjust their Medicare plans, the Open Enrollment period gives you a chance to decide if your Medicare plan is still the best option for you or if it’s time to switch to another plan.
To help decide, you should take time to review the “Annual Notice of Change” which describes any changes in your current plan for next year and which you should have received by now. Then ask yourself the big three Medicare questions. Does your plan allow you to go to the providers you want including your pharmacy? Are your prescription drugs covered? And how much does the plan cost?
Even if you are satisfied with your current plan, you still may want to look around to see if there is a better deal, especially if you have avoided the hassle of comparing plans over the past several years and just opted to automatically renew your current plan.
Choosing the right Medicare plan can be frustrating, perplexing and downright confusing. But all health insurance is complicated. Before I was enrolled in Medicare, I relied upon my employer or insurance agent - insulating me from the complexity of choosing a health insurance plan.
But there are many places where you can find help. You can visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan and use the Medicare Plan Finder; study the “Medicare & You” handbook; call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) where help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends; or visit the Oregon SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) website. If you’d rather talk to someone face to face, you can meet with a private insurance broker who specialize in Medicare, or you can call the Center and make an appointment with a trained impartial SHIBA volunteer who will help guide you through the process.
In the meantime, if you want to better understand the ins and outs of Medicare Part A, B, C, and D; Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans; and all the timelines and deadlines, you are invited to attend a Medicare 101 class at CGCC’s The Dalles Campus, on Thursday, October 12th from 1:00 – 3:00. The class is free but seats are limited. Call 541-308-8211 to register or register online at cgcc.edu.
Tomorrow’s 11:00 Wednesday Lecture at the Center will feature Marylyn Urness discussing the fascinating history of the Chinese community in The Dalles as detailed in her book “Chinatown”. Last May, Marilyn spoke at the annual Wasco County Pioneer Association meeting and her presentation was so impressive we invited her to speak at the Center.
Then at 11:00 on October 11th, Colleena Tenold Sauter from the local Aging and People with Disabilities office will provide an overview of the many services her office provides including elder abuse prevention and investigations, caregiver support, food assistance and long-term care for those who qualify.
Last Wednesday, Kerry Cobb, executive director of the Columbia Center for the Arts, gave a very enlightening presentation on the life and work of five female artists. Fortunately, she will be back at the Center on October 11th at 1:00 to direct a table read of several humorous one-act plays about older adults. There is still room for several more readers. If you are interested, call the Center to sign up.
The popular music pianist and top selling piano recording artist known for his 1955 recording of "Autumn Leaves” was Roger Williams. (I received correct answers from Betsy Ayres, Jeannie Pesicka and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Pat Foster.)
During some reminiscing at the Center with Jeanne Pesicka, this easily recognizable song, which I hadn’t thought of for decades, came to mind. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the title of the instrumental recording composed by David Rose, that reached number one on Billboard's Top 100 in 1962 and is often associated with the entertainment at a bachelor party? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a picture of Gypsy Rose Lee.
Well, it’s been another week, watching the leaves dance down the street. Until we meet again, keep up the good work.
“Here is the test to find whether you mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.” Richard Bach