POMEROY — It’s that time of year when Medicare recipients need to do their homework since many may stand to gain by switching to a new health or prescription drug plan.
The open enrollment period runs through Dec. 7 and then will be closed for change until fall of next year. It’s the one chance recipients have to make a change.
While many Medicare enrollees can research the options on their own, many find that difficult and need some help. That’s where Rhonda Rathburn comes into the picture. She is the Aging in Place office coordinator at the Meigs County Senior Center and works with seniors by advising them what is available and explaining the pros and cons of each plan so that individuals can make an informed decision as to what is best for them. For those who want to better understand the medical and prescription plans offered, a meeting with Rathburn can be beneficial.
As for the prescription drug benefit, she suggests seniors bring in their Medicare card and a list of their prescriptions. She puts that information into the computer which then produces information on plans available in the area, the premium involved, what’s covered and what’s not, and what the deductibles are. She said the senior also has the option to select a pharmacy if they want additional information or help.
Rathburn’s role with the Meigs County Council on Aging is to provide information only to the senior, to explain Part C’s drug benefit, to review with the senior the pros and cons of each plan, and then, if they desire, to help them sign up for the plan they select. There is no charge to seniors for any assistance they receive in making their decision on a drug plan.
She also assists with general information about living wills and power of attorney, along with signing up for the Golden Buckeye Card.
Rathburn’s role insofar as service to seniors is concerned also involves several other programs. It includes the Meals on Wheels program where approximately 100 meals are delivered each day to homebound seniors and other residents, and a varied transportation program.
he serves as a medical escort taking seniors who have no other transportation available to medical or other appointments to as far as Parkersburg, Huntington and Chillicothe. The medical escort program is a donation or fee based service although a request for transportation cannot be denied on the basis of ability to pay. Included in that program also are “fun outings” which in September meant a visit to the Amish country.
Homemaker is a third part of the program at the Center in which Rathburn is involved. That program involves a couple of hours a week doing housekeeping for seniors. The service is fee based although the amount is optional.
Rathburn explained that most of the services she provides come from levy funds.
In Tuesday’s election, voters will approve or reject an additional .5 mill levy for senior services. Beth Shaver, executive director of the Meigs County Council on Aging, reports that additional funding is needed to support the agency’s programs, the funding for which has been drastically reduced. She emphasized that the better solution as well as the most economical one is helping seniors age in place. Additional money from the levy will offset some of the funding lost and allow the agency to be more secure in continuing service, Shaver said.