By Betty Berry, Tuesday, July 6, 2010  Q: I retired before age 65 and have healthcare benefits from my employer. Will this be considered a Medicare supplement when I go on Medicare?

A: Since you are not yet age 65 your employer-provided healthcare benefit is your primary coverage. When you turn 65 and go on Medicare those benefits become your secondary coverage and may change. They may or may not provide the same benefits as a Medicare medigap policy.

Employer retirement plans are not the same as the state-regulated Medicare medigap plans. They do not necessarily provide the same services, since coverage depends on the contract between the employer and the insurer. Coverage will also vary depending upon whether the plan is a fee-for-service, managed-care HMO or preferred-provider network.

To determine the adequacy of the coverage ask the following questions: What will the plan pay after Medicare has paid? Does the plan pay for services Medicare does not cover? Will it cover you if you move? Is the plan guaranteed renewable? Are there annual or lifetime limits on benefits? Do you have a choice of plans? What is the ongoing cost to you?

Read your benefits booklet or healthcare policy carefully because these types of plans are changing rapidly. For all unresolved questions call your employer’s human resources department.

Q: I’m hearing more and more about elder abuse. What is considered elder abuse and if suspected, who can help?

A: Elder abuse is a growing concern for the agencies and individuals serving the senior population. Abuse can be physical, emotional or financial, or it can be a result of neglect or abandonment.

Physical abuse is any pain or injury inflected by a person in charge of care or in a position of trust. It is probably the easiest to recognize.

Emotional abuse is willful inflection of mental suffering. Examples are verbal assaults, threats, harassment and isolation. It is more difficult to detect and usually exists for quite some time before discovery.

Financial abuse is any theft or misuse of an elder’s assets by a person in a position of trust. Detection is sometimes made difficult by the way an elder has elected to hold title to his or her assets.

Neglect can result from failure of a caregiver to provide reasonable personal hygiene care, medical care or protection from health and safety hazards. Abuse also occurs from self-neglect when elders don’t provide for themselves through inattention or inability to manage.

Abandonment is the desertion of an elder by someone who is responsible for the care and custody of a senior when the senior can’t perform the duties.

Suspicion of any type of elder abuse should be reported. Adult Protective Services can be reached at 654-3200. If the elder is in a long-term care facility contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman at 656-1986.


Month of July: 50 percent off sale at Senior Concerns Bargain Boutique and Thrift Shop, 80 E. Hillcrest Drive (Under One Roof Building), Thousand Oaks, open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Information: 373-0504.

July 14: Seminar “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test?” 1:30-3 p.m. Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive, Westlake Village. For more information, call 495-6250.

— Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362; phone 495-6250 or e-mail (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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