The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the local Venice Family Clinic have joined forces to help area citizens sort their way through the miasma of options for medical coverage – and especially drug plan options – during the Fall Open Enrollment period from November 15 to December 31 that will determine coverage for 2008.
On Tuesday, November 13, CMS brought its “big Medicare bus” to the Venice Clinic’s Simms/Mann Health and Wellness Center on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, and CMS and Clinic counselors provided information about tools and resources available to help beneficiaries make smart choices about their health and drug coverage for the coming year.
Secretary Mike Leavitt of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has said that more than 90 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan (PDP) will have access to at least one plan in 2008 with premiums lower than they are paying this year. But sorting through the options usually requires a knowledgeable guide.
As beneficiaries assess their health needs, review their current health and drug coverage, compare it with other plans, and choose a plan that’s best for them, expert assistance is generally needed. Even though the “big Medicare bus” has moved on to host similar events across the country to help people with Medicare make the most of their benefits, the counselors at Venice Family Clinic remain in the neighborhood.
Patricia Lopez, a Health Insurance Program Specialist for the Clinic, explained that the Clinic can and does assist those eligible for benefits in selecting the options that are best for them. Often the choice of drug coverage options depends on just what medications a particular individual is taking, and it is therefore important to prepare a list of those medications, including dosages, when talking to a counselor.
The Venice Family Clinic may be contacted at 310.664.7509 or venicefamilyclinic.org. Information is also available at 800.772.1213, socialsecurity.gov, 800.medicare, or by going to medicare.gov.