377 Seniors Lose Medigap Coverage

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Jumping through all the hoops and meeting all the assorted deadlines to get Medicare after paying for it through a lifetime of work is bad enough. Then the company you chose to take care of your 20 percent share of costs not covered by the federal program goes bankrupt.

Getting old is not for the faint of heart.

But don’t get discouraged. Rim Country residents are blessed with some very informed ladies that can help navigate the rough waters flooding lives from the termination of the supplemental (“Medigap”) insurance offered by Universal Healthcare Inc., including 377 Gila County residents.

Rebecca Jennings and Donna Card of the Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens Area Agency on Aging gave a presentation April 9 on the options available during a special election/enrollment period, which continues through May 31, 2013. The duo will make the same presentation at 1 p.m., Thursday, April 18 at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St.

First, although Universal Healthcare Inc. dropped out of Medicare on March 31, those enrolled still have Medicare A and B coverage and were automatically enrolled in other Medigap and prescription drug plan programs. However, they don’t have to stay with them.

The Area Agency on Aging representatives have information about the 26 Medigap programs in the state, plus information from the state’s Department of Insurance to help seniors pick the best supplement insurance. They can also help people pick a plan to cover prescription drugs.

The duo made several key points to keep in mind if you are among area residents impacted by the Universal Healthcare Inc. termination.

• Plan participants are only responsible for their copayments. Don’t pay any extra bills and direct the provider to Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227) or the Area Agency on Aging benefits department, 1-800-293-9393.

• Options for coverage:

Those who do nothing will get health care coverage from Medicare and prescriptions drug benefits from a company selected by Medicare.

Participants may join any other Medicare supplement plan that includes prescription coverage before May 31. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait until the regular Oct. 15 and Dec. 7, 2013 open enrollment period or pay a late enrollment penalty.

Those who stay in a regular Medicare plan may select a different Medicare prescription drug plan and may also want to buy a Medigap policy.

To learn more between now and the 1 p.m., Thursday, April 18 program at the Senior Center, call the Area Agency on Aging benefits department at 1-800-293-9393 or Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.

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