According to a 2012 report at censusreporter.org, the number of people living in Pearl River County older than 65 comprises about 15 percent of the population.
Upon reaching 65, people have the option of enrolling in Medicare.
For many, understanding the benefits of this health plan can often be confusing and frustrating.
According to Senior Center of South Pearl River County Executive Director Darlene Adams, there is not a Medicare field representative for Pearl River County.
The nearest agency is located in Gulfport.
David Manasco is the coordinator for the Mississippi State Health Insurance Program Area Agency on Aging.
Thursday, Manasco presented a public seminar to guests at the senior center in Picayune.
Representatives with SHIP and the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District Area Agency on Aging serve the 15 southern counties in Mississippi and provide a variety of services including Medicare counseling, adult day care, case management, congregate meals, family caregiver support programs, home delivered meals, homemaker services, information referral and assistance, legal services, long term care ombudsmen and Medicaid waivers.
During the seminar, Manasco discussed changes to Medicare in 2015 and changing insurance options.
The open enrollment period ends Dec. 7, 2014.
There are three parts to Medicare, Monasco said. Part A is inpatient coverage or skilled nursing care. Part B is outpatient and includes routine care and Part D is the drug coverage.
Medicare beneficiaries have the option to change their Part D coverage during this enrollment period.
There are three ways a person is eligible for Medicare Part A benefits, including being 65 years of age or older, receiving 25 months of disability benefits or suffering from a catastrophic disease such as end stage renal failure, Monasco said.
“Part B Medicare costs will rise this year for people making more than $85,000 a year,” Monasco said. “It will be $155 a month and that number will go up depending on a person’s income bracket.”
Monasco urged members of the audience to call his office with specific questions about their cases because each one is different.
“During this open enrollment period, you can call me with your prescription drug list and Medicare number and I’ll provide you with three plans tailored to your needs,” Monasco said.
During the seminar, Monasco also described Extra Help, a low-income subsidiary for prescription drug costs. This plan drastically lowers the Part D premiums and reduces the cost of generic and brand name medications.
Medigap is a supplement to Medicare Parts A and B and the open enrollment period begins the first day of the month a person turns 65-years-old and lasts for six months. The quote for Medigap is based on age and health. General enrollment begins in January. Monasco said the policy is guaranteed renewable as long as premiums are paid.
Monasco said there are also advantage plans that help lower the costs of Medicare.
“It’s not easy to understand and I encourage everyone to call me,” Monasco said.
The 2015 Medicare premium has not changed, Monasco said.
For more information about the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District Area Agency on Aging visit the website at www.smpdd.com.
Their office is located at 9229 Hwy. 49, Gulfport and representatives can be reached by phone at 228-868-2311 or 1-800-444-8014.
For further information about SHIP contact Manasco by phone at 228-868-2311 or 1-800-948-3090 and through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Medicare at www.medicare.gov
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