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SHARE club set to hold series on Medicare updates

By Staff | Nov 12, 2008

Volunteers from Lee Memorial Health System’s SHARE Club will spend this week holding a series of informative sessions explaining the 2009 Medicare updates to seniors living in Southwest Florida.

The SHARE, or Senior Health Activities Resource Education, Club is a free program exclusively for adults over the age of 50. It offers computer classes for seniors and assistance with advanced directives and living wills, as well as older adults services and outreach programs.

The local session will be at 3 p.m. today at Cape Coral Hospital’s Auxiliary Conference Room and at 4 p.m. Nov. 19 at the North Fort Myers SHARE Club. It will help seniors make important decisions about which health plan will benefit them.

“They need to know how to figure out what plan is best for them and what questions to ask before enrolling,” said Theresa Frank, program coordinator for the SHARE Club.

Jo Marshall, a counselor volunteer from Servicing Health Insurance Needs of Elders, hosts the workshops each year.

“There are a lot of people who discontinued health care benefits all together who have no idea what to do because they have never had to deal with it. Some of them are pretty old and have some diminished capacity,” said Marshall.

There have been a number of changes to Medicare in 2009, said Marshall, and there are further updates to the booklet distributed this month.

Deductibles for Medicare Part A, for instance, which covers hospitalizations, are increasing from $1,024 per benefit period to $1,068 while Part B for labs or MRIs will stay the same.

Other changes will go into effect for the Part C Advantage Program, which bundles together Parts A, B and D, as well as the prescription program or Part D that will have maximum deductibles increase from $275 to $295 this year.

Another workshop priority will assist seniors in choosing which health plans fit their needs. Patients may choose between HMOs, PPOs and private fee-for-service organizations. Each of the plans have different policies and regulations.

Information about Medicare is available online at: medicare.gov or by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

Other sessions will be held at noon Thursday at Southwest Florida Regional Medicare Center, at 10 a.m. Friday at Lee Memorial Hospital and at 10 a.m. Monday at Health Park Medical Center.

Residents need to reserve a spot to attend one of the sessions. To make a reservation or for more information, call 772-6765.