Study up on Medicare
BEAVER SPRINGS — Complexities of the Medicare program are not areas where most people can claim expertise.
But Donna Neidig, a volunteer from Beaver Springs, has been trained to counsel people via the state’s APPRISE program. The counseling is offered through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
Neidig started in 2013 at the Union Snyder Area Agency on Aging after a period of training. The amount of training was a surprise, Neidig said, and began with shadowing other counselors and their clients.
“I explain the different Medicare programs that are available to them depending on the county in which they live,” she said of her work today. “A lot of people don’t understand Medicare. They get all these brochures in the mail. Sometimes they see things on television and it says you don’t have to pay any premium (or) we’re going to give you eye care and dental care and you’ll not pay any premium.”
Neidig said to be cautious about such offerings, as what is advertised may not be available where an individual lives or may not be available due to income restrictions.
“What APPRISE does is instead of zeroing in on one company we give them a list of all the companies that are available to them in the county they live in,” said Neidig, who noted it was information nearly everyone will need to know eventually. “You want to be thinking about it because it is going to creep up on you.”
Neidig explained that Medicare Part A will be automatically given if you have worked. There is a charge, $135.50 per month, for Medicare Part B unless the recipient is low income.
“That means that Medicare will pay 80% of your bills,” Neidig noted. “You are responsible for the other 20%. What we try to do is we tell people you can join these different plans which will help pay the other 20%.”
A supplement, available through an insurance company, would pay all the bills.
“If you can afford that, that is the best plan to have,” Neidig said. “It pays your doctor bills, hospital bills, lab work and all those kind of things.”
Monthly premiums range from $100 to $300 per month and go up a bit as person gets older.
“Most people can’t afford that,” she said. “Most people who come and see me are going to want to get on what’s called a Medicare Advantage Plan.”
Neidig searches the price range among coverage choices online, but it is still up to the client to make the choice.
Most of Neidig’s work is done at the Senior Center in Beaver Springs.
However, its not limited to APPRISE counseling. Common questions include what to do when salespeople knock on the doors of fixed-income seniors and try to get them to change electric companies.
Neidig is also a member of the Senior Center and can relate to challenges faced by her fellow seniors. She is sometimes sought after for other advice.
The Beaver Springs Senior Center is at 55 Elm St., Beaver Springs and can be reached at 570-658-7333.
Other Union Snyder Area Agency on Aging centers include 116 N. Second St., Lewisburg (570-524-2100) and 8 N. Water St., Selinsgrove (570-374-4170). Visit www.usaaa17.org for more information.
Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.