There's help for Medicare D registration
Dear Carol: The new Medicare D plan the government is talking about has my mother going in circles, and now she has me going in circles. Can you tell us where to start when this new system goes into place? How do we register? Medicare has been co...
Dear Carol: The new Medicare D plan the government is talking about has my mother going in circles, and now she has me going in circles. Can you tell us where to start when this new system goes into place? How do we register? Medicare has been confusing enough in the past. Now it just seems to be getting worse. Can we just ignore it? Thanks for any help. - James
Dear James: Most people are confused - small comfort, I know. While Medicare has confused people for decades, this new option is intensifying the feeling. But many state and national agencies are working together to make the process of choosing the right program - and registering for it - more understandable.
As always, the Senior Health Insurance Counseling (SHIC) program, through the North Dakota Insurance Department, provides free one-on-one assistance to anyone who wants help understanding Medicare choices or forms. Medicare D will make these good people very busy, indeed.
For help, people living in North Dakota should call the North Dakota Insurance Department at (800) 247-0560 and ask to be referred to a Senior Health Insurance Counselor. For the Minnesota program, the phone number is the Senior LinkAge line at (800) 333-2433.
The Department of Human Services has information posted on their Web site ( www.state.nd.us/humanservices/services/medicalserv/medicaid/medicarepartd .
html) that is specific to those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. People in Minnesota can go to www.mnaging.org/Medicare .
Seniors will begin receiving mailed information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services soon. The link to CMS's latest information about the new drug benefit is www.medicare.gov/ medicarereform/drugbenefit.asp. A helpful new CMS map is on www.cms.hhs.gov/ map/map.asp. Just click on your state.
Keep an eye on your mom's mail, James, for the CMS material. Go to some of the Web sites mentioned, and if you still have questions (who won't?), check in with the North Dakota or Minnesota agency appropriate for your mom. Be assured, none of this is fun, but we have to slog through it. Help is waiting.
Resource: The Second Annual Fargo-Moorhead Caregiver Conference, "Caregiving At Home," is 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead. Presentations will be on Parkinson's disease, stress reduction for caregivers, behavioral management for care recipients and care for the caregiver. Call Julie Marxen at (218) 299-5514 for more information.
Bursack is the author of a support book on family elder care. To submit questions to "Minding Our Elders" and view past columns, go to www.in-forum.com and click on Special Projects, then Elder Care. Readers can reach Bursack at email@example.com or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.