Open Enrollment

It’s that time of year again, Open Enrollment for Medicare and the Marketplace (ACA/Obamacare) which allows you to a chance to review your coverage.

Open enrollment for Medicare is the 15th of Oct to the 7th of Dec. During this time you can change your enrollment type, you can go from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare or change Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans are plans that allows seniors to receive both Medicare Parts A and B benefits through a private health insurer that contracts with Medicare. Plans cover hospitalization, outpatient care, and, often, prescription-drug coverage under one plan. Many plans also kick in extra services that original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as dental and vision care. You need to do research on any plans to make sure that your doctors, the hospital that you want and other services are within the network that the plan covers. You will need to check out the total cost by adding up all possible costs, including monthly premiums, copays, coinsurance, and deductibles, so you’re clear about what your total spending could be for a given year. You can change your Part D plan during this time also. Most people change their Part D plan during this time. When comparing the plans also remember to compare restriction like prior authorization or a quantity limit, so you should look into those things to see what you need to do to access your drugs and networks if the plans have any. You can have different options to receive help with these changes. You can check with Medicare by phone at (800) 633-4227, on line at, SHINE office at 1-866-531-8011, or an insurance agent. The WOCOA can also help. If you do use an insurance agent understand that if they are not independent agent, then they might be representing a certain plan or certain

If you are under 65 or not on Medicare, then your Open enrollment starts on the 1st of Nov and ends on the 15th of Dec.
You can apply for or renew your Marketplace coverage by visiting or by calling the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. The local Health Department also has a counselor to help with enrollments. When comparing plan under the Market plan it is the same as with Medicare: total health care costs not just the premium you pay to your insurance company every month. Other out-of-pocket costs, like coinsurance or a copayment, can have a big impact on your total health care spending, what benefits each
plan covers, and if the doctors, medical facilities, and
prescription drugs are covered by the plan

Remember you will get letters in the mail, calls from your plan, ads on TV, newspaper, free lunches/dinner to attend, etc to get you to sign up for a certain plan. You have options to help you review plans to ensure that what you have will work for you. Each plan is based on what medication you take, so what works for one will not work out for someone else. Compare and review during the Open Enrollment.

Summer Heat

We live in the hot and humid south but there are ways to help you stay healthy and save energy at the same time. Seniors are particularly prone to hot weather & its threat. There are several reasons for elderly heat vulnerability. People’s ability to notice changes in their body temperature decreases with age. Many seniors also have underlying health conditions that make them less able to adapt to heat. Furthermore, many medicines that seniors take can contribute to dehydration.
Dehydration is the root of many heat related health problems. Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you’re not thirsty. But always check with your doctor if you are on any medication or have any fluid restriction. Know what the Heat index is. When there’s a lot of moisture in their air (high humidity), the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating is impaired. The heat index factors humidity and temperature to approximate how the how the weather really feels. Stay indoors during the hottest time of the day mostly from 10:00 till 5:00. Cut down on your air conditioning use by closing curtains and blinds on the sunny side of your home. Keep you’re a/c at a consent temperature, it cost more to run if you turn it off & then on or turn if high when you are not home & then down when you get home. If you can keep it around 78 in the summer time & change the filters monthly it should help. Wear light, loose fitting clothes, they will help keep you cool. Eat lightly, minimize the use of your oven. Microwaves, crockpots and toaster ovens are great warm-weather stand-ins. Use portable fans for rooms that are used the most, such as the living room and bedroom. Make use of hand-held, battery-operated fans and misters. These inexpensive gadgets usually can be found in many stores. They can be lifesavers during hot weather, especially if the power goes out. Run the dry at night when it is cooler out & shut off the heat dry on your dishwasher. Unplug electronics don’t forget about phone chargers and any other chargers or placing the computer in sleep mode. Use a power strips, allow you to shut off electricity to these devices all at once. You can also contact your local electric company for an energy audit. There are also programs that can assist with electric bill some of based on income and some aren’t. Call 211 or our office for more information on programs.

June is National Men’s Health Month

There are facts that a silent health crisis is in America…it’s that fact that, on average, American men live sicker and die
younger than American women. One of the reasons is that women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual
examinations and preventive services than men. Men have higher death rates for all of the 15 leading causes of death (with the exception of Alzheimer’s disease) and die more than five years younger than women. Men’s health issues don’t affect only men; they have a significant impact on everyone around them. And because women live longer than men, they see their fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands suffer or die prematurely. Women typically pay better attention to their health than men and can help men to adopt healthier habits. Some of the problems facing men’s health can be solved within an individual family with a few simple changes. Other problems need to be addressed by society at large and require the support of women not only in the family, but also as health care providers, activists, authors, and contributors to social values and attitudes. Most men are taught from an early age to cope quietly with pain instead of telling others about their ailments. Being told, either by family or peers, that big boys don’t cry over skinned knees often leads to reluctance to seek medical attention for health afflictions decades later, especially if symptoms are related to sexual health or not plainly visible.
The male denial factor is unrelated to occupation, age level, race or socioeconomic status. No matter how smart a man is, no matter what kind of professional status he’s achieved, he can still ignore things he shouldn’t ignore and pay the unnecessary consequences.
There are some health issues that are common to both and then there are some that men have a higher rate of such as hearing loss, men are 2x higher to have hearing loss then women. Another one is Testosterone is linked to elevations of
LDL, the bad cholesterol, and declines in HDL, the good cholesterol that can lead to a lot of other issues such as cardiovascular disease. Which is why fewer people are aware that men are more likely than women to develop the disease earlier and die at younger ages and close to 90% of sudden cardiac events occur in men and that for half of the men who die, the first symptom of heart disease is death.
One of the reasons for Men’s Health month is to bring awareness of issues in men’s health. One of the keys to improving the overall health of men, even more
than we currently see, is for men to become better informed about managing risk and treating underlying conditions that lead to high death rates and then to take charge of their own health as a first step on your journey to beat the odds. Know your numbers for Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, PSA, Blood Sugar and BMI. Get screened for health issues, if you have insurance most screenings are covered at no cost or low cost, since prevention is a key factor is fighting health issues. Talk with your doctor about your health issues, if needed write down the questions that you want to ask so you don’t forget. Knowing what we do and don’t face is a lot less stressful than the fruits of a vivid imagination.