COAL TOWNSHIP — When it comes to understanding health insurance, there are always many questions to be asked and answered. For the elderly population in particular, the topic of Medicare coverage is often a source of confusion. On Wednesday afternoon, a counselor from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging were on hand at Mountain View: A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to answer Medicare questions as part of the state’s APPRISE program.
APPRISE is a free counseling program designed to help seniors understand and determine the best options available when it comes to their own personal medical coverage. The event, held in the facility’s chapel room, was presented by Jessica Cohick, an APPRISE counselor with the Northumberland County Area Agency on Aging. A group of about 10 elderly residents at the facility were in attendance.
Cohick covered a wide range of topics including: what Medicare is, when a person becomes eligible to participate in the program, how to enroll, differences between Medicare Parts A and B, dual eligible beneficiaries and what happens when someone on Medicaid gets Medicare.
Low Income Subsidies and Medicare Savings Programs were presented as options which help Medicare beneficiaries save money.
“I’m here today to discuss the APPRISE program, medical insurance and their benefits. I always advise them to make sure that their insurance and benefits are setup correctly and in a way that’s most beneficial to them,” Cohick explained.
She went on to discuss the mission statement of the APPRISE program.
“The goal of APPRISE is to empower, educate and assist Medicare-eligible individuals, their families and caregivers through objective outreach, counseling and training to make informed health insurance decisions which optimize access to care and benefits.”
According to Cohick, APPRISE services are comprised of health insurance counseling, community education and outreach. She also spoke of how those services are delivered.
“Services are delivered either by calling a telecenter or by scheduling a sit-down meeting at one of four on-site counseling sessions throughout the county at the main office in Sunbury or senior action centers in Milton, Mount Carmel or Sunbury,” Cohick noted.
Kevin Johnson, campus sales director at Mount View, welcomed those in attendance and encouraged them to ask any questions about their Medicare and Medicaid plans.
At least one Mountain View resident, Dalee Pennell, expressed her concerns over losing a substantial portion of her monthly benefit check to Medicare and Medicaid payments.
“I have Medicare and Medicaid and they’re currently taking roughly $800 out of my monthly check, which is nearly 90%,” remarked Pennell. “They take almost my whole disability check from me. I didn’t ask to have seven strokes,” she said.
Another resident, Karen Gates, spoke of her desire to use the forum as a learning tool.
“I’m trying to learn as much information about what insurance options are available and learn more about supplemental insurance benefits,” explained Gates.
Ginny Grant, area director of Premier Therapy, which provides rehabilitative services to Mount View residents, expressed her opinion of the APPRISE program, adding, “I think it’s great to finally have services and groups out there explaining to our seniors exactly what options are available to them depending upon their medical condition.”