Sunday, May 14, 2006

Senior “Snowbirds” Face Medicare Woes

When most people think of senior, what comes to mind is usually basic information that's not particularly interesting or beneficial. But there's a lot more to senior than just the basics.

For those seniors who spend the year in two different states – moving from one to the other depending on season – the new Medicare prescription plans can become even more complicated.

Government officials and Medicare advocates are trying to persuade these “snowbirds” or “sunbirds” that they should choose a prescription plan that goes with them. That means these seniors should overlook regional plans in favor of national plans that would cover them when they travel to their summer or winter home.

States such as Florida, where there are a large number of temporary residents arriving during the winter months, don’t have contingency plans set up to help those who suddenly discover that their prescription plan doesn’t work in the Sunshine State, say Medicare officials. Those affected would then have to wait until another open-enrollment period to adjust their choice.

How can you put a limit on learning more? The next section may contain that one little bit of wisdom that changes everything.

Because many spend more time in their temporary homes than the 90-day maximum pill supply covered by most prescriptions, they should be aware that there could be a problem renewing a prescription if they choose a regional plan that applies only to the area in which their permanent home is located.

"My hope is people were proactive and mentioned they spent time out of area, because they can buy plans that are good everywhere in the country," said Ernie Boyd, director of the Ohio Pharmacists Association. He added that agencies like the Ohio Department on Aging were trying to get the word out to transient seniors about national plans via the media, senior centers, and Medicare telephone hot lines.

"This is a new program and people are trying to learn about it, and concerns about travel are questions people need to ask," said Scott Parkin of the National Centers on Aging. "It could be a problem, but we probably won't see this until more people start heading north for the summer.”

Knowing enough about senior to make solid, informed choices cuts down on the fear factor. If you apply what you've just learned about senior, you should have nothing to worry about.


No comments: