Tag Archives: Area Agency on Aging

Changing with the Seasons for AEP

Covered Bridge: It’s That Time Again: AEP

There is a lot of publicity to remind folks to check their smoke detector batteries when daylight saving time is over. It makes sense to tie that chore to something that occurs on a regular basis (why not Valentine’s Day?), but I almost always forget to do it.

It seems there are always other more pressing duties on the to-do list, like finishing up in the yard, switching out those summer clothes, or putting up the storm windows (if you are unlucky enough to still have storm windows).

Another reminder comes along this time of year. Medicare-eligible individuals’ mailboxes are bombarded with mail for the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). While it can be annoying and overwhelming, it’s incredibly important for them to review their healthcare coverage every year to see if their current plan still meets their needs. The days of one-size-fits-all are over.

If you are a caregiver, a change in your loved one’s situation may indicate the need for different coverage. Have they started traveling more? Less? Have their medication needs changed, like new prescriptions or treatments for a chronic illness? Did their primary care provider retire or relocate? Did their current plan change, and does it still suit their needs? It’s time to explore their options.

We know you are busy, so let’s look at a few resources.

A great one is Medicare.gov. This site is easy to navigate and packed with information. You can check the plan’s Star Rating while you’re at it.

Another great resource is your state’s Department on Aging. It offers impartial counseling services for people who are Medicare-eligible.

Your local Area Agency on Aging is a gold mine. Find one near you at n4a.org.

HealthAllianceMedicare.org is also easy to navigate and gives a nice overview of the options we offer in your county.  

The AEP for 2019 is October 15 through December 7. The sooner you review your needs and gather information, the better equipped you will be to make an informed choice. When you’re done, you can move onto something really important, like cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen (like that’s going to happen).

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Declutter Your Life

Covered Bridge: Downsize and Declutter for Safety

The month of August has this great week called the National Safe At Home Week, August 26 to 30, and that got me thinking about things that people could do to keep their home safer.

Did you know that our local Area Agency on Aging, LifeStream, has a program called “Safety Solutions” that not many within their newly expanded service area in Indiana know about? This program allows individuals to send a referral to LifeStream to assess the needs of someone on safety item(s) that may need fixed to make their living environment safer.

When I think of Safe At Home Week, what came to me instantly was to declutter! I must admit that I am a bit of a clutter bug when it comes to paperwork. I somehow have a hard time parting with things I might need down the road.

I’m finding myself getting a tad bit anxious when the papers seem to be too much to keep organized or in place. I need to make a change, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Why not use this month, or a week in this month, to get the clutter bug under control? I think you might thank yourself later when you have more peace, maybe more money in your pocket (hey, the summer is a great time for a yard sale), and a safer environment that is less cluttered. (I don’t really believe in the notion of being “clutter-free,” but I think we can work to have less clutter in our lives.)

Reid Health Alliance has great presentations about a whole host of topics that we share with the community, and one of them is called Downsize and Declutter. It gives practical advice on how to start the declutter and downsize process, how to stick with it, and the possible rewards of getting through the process, along with other helpful tips. If you’re interested in having an outreach liaison, like me, present this to your group, please email me at Morgan.Gunder@healthalliance.org to schedule a time. Happy decluttering!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Legal Advice: The Right Time for a Professional

Long View: Leaving Some Things to the Professionals

I have to admit the health insurance business is complicated and often difficult to understand. So many regulations are involved, and then there are the exceptions, annual plan changes, and the wide variety of policies that are available.

We help our Health Alliance members navigate the wonderful world of health insurance every day. Another arena that seems especially complicated to me is the law.

In central Illinois, there are resources for people who need legal advice for civil cases (not criminal), which are provided at no cost to those who qualify. One of these is called Prairie State Legal Services. Its mission is “to ensure equal access to justice and fair treatment under the law by providing legal advice and representation, advocacy, education, and outreach that serve to protect basic human needs and enforce or uphold rights.”

Adrian Barr is the Managing Attorney for Prairie State. He told me, “The legal system is a very difficult place to navigate for people who do not have attorneys. It is almost as if we in the legal community speak and write in a different language.”

“Having the opportunity to consult with an attorney about one’s legal situation can be an invaluable resource,” he said. “Prairie State will discuss a person’s legal situation with them and provide legal advice. Prairie State will also provide representation for important legal issues, including those that affect a person’s finances, safety, housing, or their health.”

Lora Felger is my co-worker in Iowa. She is very sharp, but knows legal questions are best left to the professionals. Lora suggests Iowans start with their local Area Agency on Aging. Iowa’s 6 regional Area Agencies on Aging partner with Iowa Legal Aid to offer free legal services to eligible seniors with the Legal Assistance Program. This program “serves persons 60 years of age and older by providing legal advice and representation, information and education, and referrals in civil legal matters throughout the state.”

I think I will have to be satisfied with my expertise in the field of health insurance. I feel justified in my decision to let the professionals handle any legal question that might come up. My personal experience also tells me it would be prudent to use a professional electrician whenever the need arises. I accidentally created an arc welder one time, but that’s a subject for another column.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.