Tag Archives: Aging and Adult Care

Finding Medicare During the Annual Enrollment Period

Vantage Point: The Season for Informed Choices

It’s October, and folks living in North Central Washington are looking forward to beautiful fall colors and freshly picked apples. For those on Medicare, it’s also the start of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), when beneficiaries can shop for their 2016 coverage. It runs October 15 to December 7. But because of confusing plan changes and choices, some dread the AEP rather than looking forward to it.

But there are people who can help make these decisions easier. A trusted resource for Medicare eligibility throughout the year is the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program. The SHIBA program was formed to help consumers understand Medicare and their options for supplementing it. SHIBA counselors keep client information 100% confidential, and their main mission is to help clients see Medicare plan comparisons so that the client can choose using unbiased and accurate information.

At educational presentations in the past, I’d learned a lot from Dick Anderson, a certified SHIBA counselor, and recently had the pleasure of meeting with him one-on-one. Hearing Dick describe some of his stories captured what a valuable service he and other advisors provide. Counseling to help others by these trained volunteers truly comes from the heart.

Dick says there’s no Medicare plan that’s right for everyone, so instead he tries to get his clients to talk about their individual needs. This helps him determine what’s most important to them, so they can make a measured choice that meets their personal needs.

The rewards for this work are illustrated by Dick’s powerful stories of people from all different backgrounds, incomes, and educational levels who have come to him heavy with feelings of helplessness and confusion and after meeting with him, left with their cloud of anxiety lifted.

At Health Alliance, we strive to have quality, sustainable Medicare plans, but we agree with Dick that there’s no perfect plan for every person’s needs. Therefore, we value and respect the work SHIBA volunteers do to help people make informed choices.

For current Health Alliance members, we’re holding special meetings the first week of October in Wenatchee, Moses Lake, and Omak about our 2016 benefits and to answer any questions.

If you want to meet with a SHIBA counselor, you can make an appointment by calling Community Choice at 1-888-452-0731 or Aging and Adult Care at 509-886-0700.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four adult sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.

Preparing for the End of LIfe

Vantage Point: Planning for Quality at End of Life: Education to Ensure Dignity

For Health Alliance Medicare, responsibility is not just paying health claims when our members visit the doctor, but more importantly, it’s stewardship—safeguarding and protecting by providing quality and education. Special people called star coordinators help do just that by developing and using Medicare quality and chronic care improvement programs.

On April 22 at 2 p.m., Health Alliance will partner with local experts Dr. Timiras, Dr. Weiss and Ginny Heinitz, RN, from Confluence Health as well as Bruce Buckles, executive director of Aging and Adult Care of Central Washington, to hold a Wenatchee educational event. What makes this opportunity unique is that it features an insurance company working in tandem with care providers and a community resource organization to help educate members on the daunting subjects of palliative care and advanced directives.

Not everyone knows palliative care is a team approach that not only improves the quality of life for patients facing problems associated with life-threatening illness but also serves as a support system to patients’ families. Through the prevention and relief of suffering by early identification, assessment and treatment of pain, palliative care addresses physical, psychosocial, and spiritual problems and affirms dying as a normal process of living.

In addition to palliative care, our expert panelist will provide valuable information on preparing advanced directives. People who work in the medical field often witness family and friends struggling alone to make decisions on behalf of their loved ones who did not document their wishes ahead of time.

Questions, such as who will make care decisions for you when you can’t, what kind of medical treatment do you want, how comfortable do you want to be, how do you want people to treat you, and what do you want your loved ones to know, can alleviate tremendous stress for the family in the event of a life-threatening illness.

Health Alliance hopes this educational opportunity will enhance quality of life and serve as a gesture of stewardship by teaching attendees how to ensure dignity and freedom of choice at the end of life. If interested in attending, please email Shannon Sims at shannon.sims@healthalliance.org or call 877-750-3350. Videos of the event will also be available here after the event.