Archive for August, 2011

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15, 2011 – December 7, 2011

Did you know new prescription drug and health plan coverage choices are offered every year? Every fall, all people with Medicare should review their current coverage.

During the Fall Open Enrollment you can change how you receive your health coverage and add, change or drop drug coverage. You can make as many changes as you want. Changes made during the Fall Open Enrollment take effect January 1, 2012. If you don’t want to make any changes you don’t need to do anything, your current coverage will stay the same.

What you can do:

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.
  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period 2012: January 1, 2012 – February 14, 2012

During the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) you can switch from a Medicare private health plan (also known as a Medicare Advantage plan) to Original Medicare. Regardless of whether the Medicare private health plan had drug coverage, you can join a stand-alone prescription drug plan, but you are not required to. For example if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage you can change to Original Medicare and a prescription drug plan or Original Medicare and no drug plan.  Changes made during the MADP go into effect the first day of the following month.

What you can do:

  • If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can leave your plan and switch to Original Medicare.
  • If you switch to Original Medicare during this period, you will have until February 14 to also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to add drug coverage. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after the plan gets your enrollment form.
    Note: During this period, you can’t do the following:
  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another.
  • Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another.
  • Join, switch, or drop a Medicare Medical Savings Account Plan.

Choosing Medicare coverage can be confusing, but understanding the different parts of Medicare and your Medicare coverage choices can help.  You can use the Medicare Plan Finder https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx to help you make a decision about the best plans for you.

 If you would like assistance with this process please contact a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). To find a SHIP program in your area visit: http://www.state.nj.us/health/senior/sashipsite.shtml

Tips for Caregivers

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Tips for Caregivers

A critical part an older adult remaining in the community is support from family and friends. Some of that support comes in the form of a family caregiver. We know that many sons, daughter, grandchildren, nieces/nephews or siblings are taking on the role of a caregiver to a loved one.

A recent report from AARP about the value of caregivers states that in 2009 42 million Americans provided care to an older adult family member with limited daily abilities. Furthermore, they found that 65% of those caregivers were female and many worked a job in addition to providing care. The report also states that the typical caregivers provides approximately 20 hours a week of unpaid care.

While, caregiving is a job and does require the caregiver to make sacrifices, many report that they appreciate the relationship between themselves and the care recipient. Providing care for a loved one can be a rewarding activity, even if it is challenging at times. Some say the bond they make with the care recipient enhances their life, such as a daughter caring for her mother may bring them closer and allow them to share thoughts and feelings that they did not before.

The relationship between the caregiver and the care recipient can become stressful, in most cases the family member is providing care that may be uncomfortable for one or both parties. Not to mention, the older adult care recipient may also be having difficulty with the change in their abilities and routine. Parents may be reluctant to share financial or personal information with children, which could make assisting with bill paying difficult.

Not only are there aspects of caregiving that stressful, but also time consuming. Tasks such as shopping, food preparation, laundry, transportation and physical care for another individual leaves little time to care for oneself.

There are of course many resources available, below are some tips we’ve found that may be helpful, as well as a list of resources.

Tips:

  1. Ask questions. To avoid an argument with the care recipient, make sure you ask specific questions about situations or decisions that need to be made. Ask their advice before making a decision for them, perhaps it is something they’ve already thought about or made arrangements for.
  2. Organize documents. Keeping important documents all in one place is a practical strategy. Create categories like personal, medical, financial, and keep them all in a binder or file. Also, keeping a list of medications and doctors can be helpful too.
  3. Take time for yourself. Utilize other family members, neighbors or local community services to provide care so you can take a break. Caregivers should not feel guilty about needing a break, taking an exercise class, reading a book or just taking care of you is necessary to assure you are taking good care of your loved one.
  4. Take advantage of local services. Contact the Eldercare Locator, a service offered by the US Administration on Aging, which helps people find services for older adults. There you can find adult day centers, rehab and nursing services in your own town, as well as, your county and municipal aging programs.

A list of County Office on Aging can be found at http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html

To find a Senior Center in your area visit:

http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/seniorcenter/scSearch.aspx

To get more information from NJ Division of Aging and Community Services visit http://www.nj.gov/health/senior/index.shtml or call 1-800-792-8820.

Eldercare Locator:             http://www.eldercare.gov/eldercare.NET/Public/index.aspx