Mountainland clarifies new Medicare
It’s lunchtime according to the bell Park City Senior Citizens member and cook Lee Denler rings. A couple, dressed in snow pants with Park City Mountain Resort season passes dangling from their necks, rises from playing dominoes to join a long table for shepherd’s pie.
If there’s one thing that Park City Senior Citizens president Jo Reid is adamant about it’s exercise. Denler explains she is not available until after the 10 o’clock exercise class. Park City Senior Citizens meet on Mondays and Thursdays at the Senior Center on Woodside Ave. Racquet Club instructors come on Mondays for an exercise class and Thursdays for Yoga.
"I say move it or lose it," Reid explains. "We’ve been [holding classes] for three years and I think exercise is so important."
As Reid organizes trips to the Kimball Art Center and Salt Lake, and speakers for talks, on her mind, and many other seniors’ minds across the country, is the government’s new national prescription drug coverage assistance plan, "Medicare Part D." Before May 15, 2006, seniors who would like to sign up for government assistance with 75 to 95 percent of prescription drug costs, must choose between around 20 different companies, which many seniors are finding confusing. Before lunch, Reid met with Scott McBeth, director of the Mountainland Association of Governments’ Department of Aging and Family Services. Mountainland and the State of Utah’s Aging and Adult Services will be offering help at the Miners Hospital on Dec. 19 by appointment. "We can’t tell [seniors] which plan to choose, but we can help them sort through the information so that they can make an informed decision," McBeth explains. He adds that taking the time to look at plans individually is important, since a quick glance can appear to be less expensive than others. All plans charge the same amount, he says. "Most plans have an up-front fee of $250. Some don’t, but that just means the fees are structured differently," he said. One of the "mind-boggling" selection issues McBeth describes a "donut hole" in the coverage, which is essentially a coverage gap in the Medicare plan. After the initial $250 fee, each year, the government will pay for 75 percent of prescription drug costs, until the bill for drugs hits $2,250. If a beneficiary’s annual drug costs are more than $2,250, and do not exceed $5,100, the senior must pay the entire bill. The Medicare program begins to cover 95 percent of drug costs when a senior’s prescription drug costs is considered "exceed $5,100. McBeth said the thing that the 40 members of Park City’s senior center need to remember is that there is plenty of time to make a careful decision. "One of the things that’s important for seniors to understand is that they have time to figure out what’s best they shouldn’t be panicking," he said. To make an appointment for one-on-one help with Medicare Part D from Mountainland Association of Governments Aging and Family Services Department and the State of Utah’s Aging and Adult Services Division on Monday, Dec. 19 at Park City’s Miners Hospital, Coalville’s Summit County Court House or Kamas’ South Summit High School, seniors can call 1-800-541-7735.
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