Rupert Howell’s Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Seniors face another health care decision, advocates urge caution

Seniors beware. You may soon be faced with another decision about your health care. At least  a  couple of folks are urging you to be ready and get informed.

By November 15, Medicare recipients may be asked to choose between the traditional Medicare they are presently receiving and a Medicare Advantage Plan, a health plan option approved by Medicare but run by private companies.

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The people urging you to be informed are Ricky Draper and Elaine Sanford who represent Windsor, one of several companies approved by Medicare to offer the alternative benefit in this area.

If those names don’t sound exactly familiar, Draper has lived between Panola County and Memphis while growing up and graduated from South Panola. Sanford’s husband, Otis, is originally from Como. Both are related to the many Panolians who share their last names.

Not trying to sound too much like an advertisement, Sanford and Draper explained that not everybody is a good candidate for these plans. Your hospital and doctor should  be participants in the program.

What they stressed most was that those Medicare recipients who are interested should make sure that the person selling the product has a picture I.D. and a Mississippi Insurance Department License number.

You may remember a few years back when different insurance companies were signing up Tenn-Care, Tennessee’s version of Medicare. Unscrupulous brokers enrolled people who weren’t qualified, even some who were prison inmates, for services that they either didn’t need or couldn’t use.

Every Medicare recipient should have received a book that explains exactly what is being offered or what the options are according to Sanford.

“It’s all in the book, but it’s a lot to wade through,” she said, adding: “Seniors need to be educated and informed before enrollment begins.”

She and Draper have talked with ministers, chambers of commerce and civic organizations encouraging them to help spread the word.

Their company and probably others, will be holding informational seminars closer to the enrollment date.

Seniors should pay attention to determine what best suits their medical needs. Those who are not seniors should try to understand to help our senior friends and family with their decisions.