Senior Life: It’s Medicare email season

You know fall is coming when you start getting emails and phone calls from insurance companies wanting you to switch to their “great” Medicare programs.

One day recently I received two emails from different companies wanting me to “convert to their Extraordinary Medicare Programs.” They were sure their program would be better than what I already have … even though they did not know anything about the program I have!

I can’t wait for the phone calls to start! It is bad enough that they are starting by cluttering my email.

By this time, haven’t most of us settled on an insurance company we are comfortable with? There really is not that much difference in what they offer … Summa will give you free over-the-counter medications, while another company will provide you with a free medical alert button. One company will offer a cheaper monthly price, while increasing the cost of your deductibles. And so on …

If you have found a company that you are satisfied with that treats you respectfully, and meets most of your needs, you will probably want to keep it and ignore all of the sales pitches we will soon be receiving. But if you want to consider a change, you might want to wait until September when you can attend a meeting with Direction Home Area Agency on Aging (1-877-770-5558).

This Agency is in the process of moving to a larger facility, and their staff has not yet established a meeting schedule for sessions about Medicare options. I am told by one of their staff members, Lori Smith, that a schedule of informational sessions will be available in September.

Keep in mind when talking to these folks, that they do not represent any ONE insurance company.

They have information about all the programs and services available in Portage County, as well as info about each of the programs which might or might not meet your medical needs.

Remember changes can be made to your Medicare coverage only during the days from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. We have plenty of time. No reason to make a hasty decision now.

In an attempt to clarify the information about the enrollment period for Medicare, I did contact our local information and referral services at 211. My previous experience with them is that they have a broad knowledge of what services are available to all residents of Portage County.

For the best direction of what is available, call the Direction Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging. They are part of a much broader program of our federal government, which means that their staff members have extensive training in providing services to senior citizens as well as a larger “pot” of money from the federal government.

Having trouble staying cool this summer? Your electric bill’s too high, you need an air conditioner, or even a working fan? The Community Action Council of Portage County (330-297-1456) may be able to help you.

If you are 60 years of age or older, if your one-person monthly household income is $2,097.12 or less (two-person monthly household income $2,836.44), you may qualify for HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program). This agency may be able to help you pay your electric bill if you get a disconnect notice or assistance in subsidizing your monthly utility bills.

If you have not received a fan or air conditioner from them in the past three years, you may be eligible for a new one. Once you prove your need and eligibility, you will be given a “voucher” to take to Lowes in Brimfield, who will provide a fan or air conditioner. Community Action Council can also help with financial assistance to get your units repaired.

To qualify for this program, you will need to call 234-703-4303 for information and an appointment.

Appointments are now done over the telephone, not in person. The actual agency is located on West Main Street in Ravenna, with “drop boxes” for your information on the west side of their building.

To obtain assistance you will need proof of age, a picture ID, proof of citizenship, Social Security numbers for all persons in your household, electric, gas or fuel oil bills, and proof of income.

Sounds like a lot of work and time to gather all this information? If you are sitting in a hot house, and cannot sleep because of the heat … it will be worth the effort!

The Community Action Council of Portage County is available to assist all residents of Portage County if you meet the requirements for their programs.

Contact Sally Kelly at 330-687-9501 or [email protected] with your senior news.

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