Sacramento Business Journal, December 18, 2009
Gayla and Milton Barrett will lose their doctor next year if they stay with the same Medicare health plan. Their options are confusing, and they have to make a decision before New Year’s Day.
Nancy Neudorfer is comfortable signing up for Medicare and supplemental insurance but is stumped by all the choices for Part D prescription drug coverage.
Open enrollment, the window of time for Medicare beneficiaries to pick new plans for the new year, ends Dec. 31, and seniors are scrambling for answers.
That’s where Pat Johnson comes in. A resident of Sun City Lincoln Hills, she’s built a comfortable home-based business advising others how to wade through a government insurance program that offers 47 plans in the region for 2010.
“People are totally confused, particularly people who are just going on Medicare for the first time,” she said.
“We have all the tools and support you need, but the task itself is not easy,” said David Sayen, regional administrator for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in San Francisco. Prescription drug and health plans change every year. About 7 percent of the 44 million seniors nationwide who participate in the program switch plans annually.
Medicare’s toll-free line handled 3.9 million calls during open enrollment last year. The government’s online prescription drug plan tool logged in more than 31 million page views.
Some seniors figure it out on their own. Others seek free help from the Health Insurance Advocacy and Counseling Program — better known as HICAP — which has a regional office in West Sacramento. It serves more than 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries in a nine-county region that includes the Sacramento area.
Still others want somebody to take charge, are willing to pay a fee and go to Johnson, who offers free phone advice and a variety of services. She’ll suggest top choices for drug plans that meet individual needs, review medical insurance options and manage bills and claims on an ongoing basis.
“I’ve had clients show up with shopping bags full of bills and papers. I tell them to throw everything in and bring it over,” she said.
Let Pat Johnson help with your medical insurance concerns. A caring service since 1977.
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