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Olympic Area Agency on Aging Information & Assistance

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So September is here and now you've had your calendar check.

Remember that Ocean Beach Hospital's "Up with Good Health Carnival" takes place on September 26th, 8 AM-1 PM, appropriately enough at the hospital.

Another heads-up: Coming October 1st, a Medicare information outreach event will be held at the Ocean Park Fire Hall, from 1 PM-3 PM. Details will be unfolding as we go, but the general thrust of the vent will be assistance for both new to Medicare folks, and those who are currently enrolled in Medicare.

What does that mean? Medicare's various parts will be explained to boomers hitting the age to enroll for one thing. Briefly, Part A is hospital coverage. Part B deals with outpatient services, clinics, etc. Part D is the prescription plan piece.

And just so folks don't think I can't remember the alphabet, there is a Medicare Part C, also. Part C is the Advantage Plan piece that can add coverages to original Medicare coverage. The reason I passed it over is that it is unavailable in Pacific County.

What if you're other than "new" to Medicare? Assistance and information will also be there to look at supplemental (medi-gap) plans that help cover what Medicare leaves behind. Part D enrollment info will also be provided. Remember that open enrollment for Part D begins October 15th. Also remember that your prescription plan for 2014 may not be the best fit for you in 2015.

Formularies (covered prescriptions), as well as premiums, may change from year to year, so it's a good idea to do some exploring.

Speaking of Medicare, remember that part B has a premium, currently about $104.90 for most folks in 2014. Sometimes $100+ can be a huge strain each month, especially if you're trying to get by on Social Security only--or less. There are plans designed to help pay for this cost--for those who financially qualify--and they're referred to as Medicare Savings Plans. (Some plans may also help with copays and deductibles.)

The various plans go by QMB, SLMB, QI and QDWI in case you like to collect cryptic sounding acronyms. What is useful information, is that these plans have varying levels of eligibility in regard to income and there is a resource limit.Without going into too much detail regarding what the specific income limit is per program, the general guidelines are as follows:

If you are single, and have income less than $1324/month--or married with income less than $1792/month, you might qualify for help. I mentioned a resource limit: $7280 if you're single and $10, 930 if married.

Sound like something worth looking into? If you're not yet on Medicare, or want to wait for October 1st, then make a note for when the time comes.

Want the information sooner, or want to apply? You can contact any of the numbers at the end of this column and knowledgeable people will be glad to help.

Simply because a program has been around a long time, and we frequently hear the terms certainly doesn't guarantee we know all about it, but we have people who work daily in this arena, so jump right in!

Information & Assistance
Long Beach: 642 3634/888 571 6558

Raymond: 942 2177/888 571 6557

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