By Cozette Eldridge

W.P. Co. Field Representative

Medicare had been active for 53 years and is 60 million members strong. There will be some changes coming this year.

Medicare is divided into four parts – A,B,C,D.

Part A — Partial Coverage for: Inpatient Hospital Stay, Skilled Nursing, Hospice, and Home Care.

Part B — Partial Coverage for: Doctor Visits, Surgery, Lab Tests, Medical Equipment, Preventive Exams.

Part C — Similar to Parts A and B with predictable out- of -pocket costs and more coverage.

Part D – Helps with the cost of some medications not covered by Original Medicare.

Parts A and B are what is known as Original Medicare. Part C is offered through private insurers and health plans. Part D is also offered through private insurers and health plans.

Medicare Advantage has eliminated the disenrollment period that existed from Jan. 1 through Feb. 14 each year and replaced it with a new Medicare Advantage open enrollment period that runs from Jan. 1 through Mar. 31 annually.

This allows a three-month period in which to try out a Medicare Advantage plan. If you aren’t satisfied you can disenroll from your current Advantage Plan. Enroll in a different Advantage plan. Go back to Original Medicare.

Add or change a Part D Plan. Medicare sends a handbook to members each fall.

The handbook has been revised including information to assist enrollees to compare out–of– pocket costs and coverage options between Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare.

Patients will have a have a broadened use of telephone and online visits with doctors and nurses. 2019 will see these services extended to patients with end-stage renal disease or during treatment for a stroke.

As of January, Medicare Advantage plans can offer the option of a variety of services the patient’s medical provider recommends benefits such as meal delivered to the home, transportation to the doctor’s office, home-safety improvements such as bathroom grab bars and wheelchair ramps. Congress permanently repealed the therapy cap allowing members of Original Medicare to no longer cover the full cost of outpatient physical, speech or occupational therapy.

Previously there was only limited coverage for those services. Starting this year Medicare Advantage plans can offer the option of in-home help. Traditionally Medicare required that the services had to be primarily health-related.

Under the new definition, the plans may offer an option to pay for assisted care from home health aides who can help with personal care, dressing and eating.

The food bank is Friday, Jan. 4 at the First Baptist Church, 701 Ave. N from 3 to 5 p.m.

A blood pressure clinic will be offered Wednesday, Jan. 9 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Senior Center.

SENIOR CENTER MENU

JAN. 7 – 11

MONDAY: Clam Chowder, 3 Bean Salad, Turkey Sandwich/Lettuce/Tomato, Fruit

TUESDAY: Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes/Gravy, Squash Blend, Mixed Fruit

WEDNESDAY: Beef Hot Dogs/Bun, Beet Salad, Potato Salad, Baby Carrots, Fresh Fruit

THURDAY: Italian Baked Chicken, Noodles, Garden Salad, Crackers, Fresh Orange

FRIDAY: BBQ Pork Sandwich, Corn, Steamed Spinach, Coleslaw, Fruit, Dessert