Monday, September 24, 2007

September 24 Meeting: Pamela Cunningham--Medicare

What in the World is Going on with Medicare?

Click here to listen.

Pamela Cunningham is coordinator of Sage PLUS, the free State Health Insurance Assistance Program in the Executive Office on Aging. For those who were unable to attend her presentation, you can learn about the newest complexities in Medicare in this audio recording. Just click on the link above to begin playing. Handouts can be downloaded by right-clicking here.

Medicare’s attempt to give choices to Social Security beneficiaries has resulted in an overwhelming 9 private insurance companies offering 16 various policies called Medicare Advantage Plans and 46 offering prescription drug plan options. Each one may have different benefits, co-pays and deductibles. Sage PLUS’ job is to help people narrow the choices to which one is best suited to their needs if they decide to change from original Medicare. If you wish to choose a new plan you can do so only once a year from November 15 – December 31; with the new plan starting January 1. Cunningham suggests considering the criteria below when considering a change. Sage Plus will also help you file an appeal if you are denied any benefits. Call 586-7299 for information and help and/or use “compare Health Plans.”

1. Will I gain any benefits from the new plan?
2. Is my current plan something that I can change? (If it is offered through a retirement package, you may have fewer options and need to check with the company’s plan administrator).
3. What will my out of pocket expenses be if I am in the hospital, my doctor visit, use ambulance service?
4. Do my doctors, hospitals and other providers understand and work with the new plan?
5. Do I pay more if I go to a doctor or facility outside the plans network? Does the plan have a network?
6. If the plan provides drug coverage—are the prescription drugs that I take covered by the plan? Does it work at my pharmacy choices?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

September 24 Program: What in the world is going on with Medicare?

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church
Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.

Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.

11:30 Luncheon: Various Pizzas, Salad, Dessert by Eloise. $5.00 donation

11:45 Welcome, Introductions and Remarks, Larry Geller, President

12:00 PROGRAM: “What in the world is going on with Medicare?” Recent Changes by Pamela Cunningham, Sage PLUS, Executive Office on Aging.

August 27 Meeting: Renee Ing and Jim Brewer--Single-Payer Healthcare vs. Business as Usual

Click here to listen.

In spite of the plans proposed by the Democratic Presidential candidates, Renee Ing and Jim Brewer, who have been advocating for Single Payer Health Care for at least ten years and have been attending meetings on the Legislative Taskforce on Health, are convinced that the Single Payer system is the best for this country and state. They pointed out that the Single Payer system would be the cheapest, simplest and offer the most coverage than the combination plans discussed by the candidates.

Across America, our broken health care system is squeezing families. In 2005, 47 million U.S. residents had no health insurance, and the numbers keep growing. Of the 47 million Americans without health insurance, nearly one-quarter—more than 8 million—are children. In Hawaii 108,000 people are uninsured.

Health care costs are rising at more than twice the rate of inflation. Health care premiums have increased 81 percent since 2000 based on the Kaiser Family Foundation surveys and wages have increased 16.5 percent. As employers find it increasingly hard to pay their share, this trend may result in millions of workers losing their employer-based coverage. 18,000 people die due to no coverage. Even with health insurance coverage, many people have had to declare bankruptcy because of health costs.

In a comparison to the Canadian system, Canada costs $3,500 per year per person, the USA costs $7,000. 31% of our costs are for administration: advertising, overlapping coverage from multiple insurances covering health, profit, commissions for sales agents. Canada spends only 1.7% on administrative costs.

A Canadian research firm found no differences in waiting times for services between the USA and Canada. Emergencies are seen immediately.