QUESTION: If I remember correctly it is about this time of year that Medicare has its Annual Open Enrollment. Can you provide the dates?
ANSWER: Medicare Annual Open Enrollment will start on Thursday October 15 th and run through Monday December 7 th .
During this period you can change the coverage you have from Medicare-fee-for-service to a Senior Advantage Plan or from a Senior Advantage Plan to Medicare-fee-for-service or from one Senior Advantage Plan to another Senior Advantage Plan.
This is the time when you should also review your Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage. Each year insurance companies change, formularies change and co-pays, deductibles and monthly premiums change and your needs may also change. This annual open enrollment period is the time to review the coverage you currently have and compare it to what will be available in the coming year.
This review should be done every year to ensure you have the best coverage for the least amount of money.
Starting now and through the entire six weeks of open enrollment there will be seminars and one-stop-shops scheduled throughout the county.
The seminars will review Medicare coverage in general and answer any questions attendees may have. These seminars will also provide information about any changes that will take place in 2016.
Attendees at these seminars who want assistance with comparing their Part D plans with those that will be available in 2016 should come to the seminars with a complete list of their prescription drugs, the size of the dosage of those drugs and how often those drugs are taken.
At the one-stop-shops individual counseling will be available to review the Part D computer printouts and assist with enrollment in those plans. Other questions about health care coverage including Covered California and basic benefits will also be answered.
Seminars and one-stop-shops are open to the public and are usually held at Senior Centers or the Area Agency on Aging offices in Ventura.
In the weeks to come I will try to provide information on these events about a week or two in advance of their scheduled dates. Reservations at any of these meetings are highly recommended.
Watch here for a seminar and a one-stop-shop near you.
QUESTION: I am concerned about whether my parents are handling their finances properly and if or when I should attempt to help. Are there any signals that could alert me to specific trouble?
ANSWER: This is a situation that many families are faced with and one that both parents and children hesitate to discuss. Many families do not discuss finances until a crisis occurs and by then many times it is too late.
Some adult children hesitate to discuss financial concerns with their parents for fear of appearing overly interested in their possible inheritance. Others don’t want to think about the day when their parents are unable to manage on their own.
Parents, on the other hand, are often reluctant to admit they need help while others equate asking for help with loss of independence.
Timely discussions before a crisis help. They help ensure your parents are part of the decision making process. After all we are talking about their lives. These discussions also reduce disagreements among siblings about how parents’ assets should be handled when and if the time comes.
There are some situations that might indicate a problem. If you become aware of second notices, fees and prior month balances on routine household bills or utility cutoffs you might offer assistance in paying monthly bills.
If checking accounts are overdrawn, have bounced checks or excessive fees you might suggest helping to reconcile the checking account when the statement comes in.
Credit card problems can indicate a need for help perhaps through monitoring account statements or by reducing the number of cards and charge accounts.
Severe illness or death of the first parent would certainly indicate the need for discussion and an offer of assistance.
Who you include in these discussions depends on your family dynamics. However, your parents’ wishes should largely determine who takes part. If your family relations are tense and siblings are not in agreement the use of an outside professional to facilitate the meeting might be the right decision.
Hope this gets you started.
TODAY – September 16 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Seminar – “Do You Understand Your Insurance Forms” – at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village.
WEDNESDAY – September 23 – 1:00 to 3:00 pm – Seminar – Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association – free Diabetes Class – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. No reservations needed.
TUESDAY – September 29 – 5:30 to 7:00 pm – Seminar – Empowered Caregiver Series – “What Matters Most in End of Life Planning” …