Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging: Aging News You Can Use (Fall 2015)

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November 2015
Information and Resources to Know and Share
Welcome to the last 2015 edition of Aging News You Can Use! Medicare Open Enrollment continues through Monday, December 7, 2015. This issue features: Open Enrollment and extra-help programs for covering Medicare costs; new Health Insurance Counseling Sites in Northeast Minneapolis; where to get the 2016 Health Care Choices booklets; and Health Insurance Counselors. Thank you for your continued partnership. Together, we can promote successful aging in our communities.

Emily Justman, Chee Moua, Marilyn Theesfeld, and Kelsey Heisler
MAAA Outreach Team

Senior LinkAge Line® is a partnership of the Minnesota Board on Aging and Area Agencies on Aging. 
Answers to Your Medicare Questions and More
Q: If I am already on Medicare, is there anything I need to do during Open Enrollment?

A: Medicare Open Enrollment occurs from October 15December 7 each year. It is a time when beneficiaries, those already enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription Drug Plan or an Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage, should review their prescription drug costs. After comparing the costs of their current plan with other plans, they can choose to change their plans for 2016, to be effective January 1. It is important during Open Enrollment to be sure a beneficiary’s prescribed drugs are covered by the current drug plan (formulary) and to consider plan deductible changes for 2016. No plans cover all prescription drugs and some charge more for a particular drug than other plans charge. For, 2016, the maximum Part D annual deductible will be $360. Compared with prior years, more plans will have a deductible in 2016. Additionally, more plans will have a preferred pharmacy network, meaning it may be cost effective to change pharmacies depending on the Part D plan selected. It is estimated that a majority of beneficiaries on Part D could save $300 or more each year by changing their drug plans.

Q: What is a low-income subsidy and who is eligible for it?

A: Senior LinkAge Line Specialists at 1-800-333-2433 can help beneficiaries compare the costs of drug plans and enroll in new plans with the Medicare.govwebsite. They can also help beneficiaries determine eligibility and apply for Low Income Subsidy (LIS). LIS may provide Part D plans with sliding scale premiums, reduced deductibles, and no coverage gaps. A single beneficiary with a monthly income of less than $1,471 and assets of $13,640 or less (not including a house or car), and couples with a monthly income of $1,991 or less and assets of $27,250 or less (not including a house or car) might be eligible for LIS or other programs. The Social Security Administration determines eligibility for LIS. Apply online at

Featured Senior LinkAge Line Services
New Medicare Health Insurance Counseling Sites in Northeast Minneapolis

Northeast Senior Services, located at 2580 Kenzie Terrace in NE Minneapolis, now has Medicare health insurance counseling available on site every Tuesdayfrom 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Those who receive Medicare benefits or are eligible to enroll in Medicare can meet in-person with a health insurance counselor to get answers to their questions. To schedule an appointment call 612-781-5096.

Health insurance counselors are trained through the Minnesota State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), a national program of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The program provides free, in-depth, objective, confidential, and objective insurance counseling and assistance. Counselors are not connected with any insurance company and cannot recommend a specific product.

MAAA added the new NE Minneapolis site in response to a request from the community. Kay Anderson, Executive Director of Northeast Senior Services, states, “As a daughter who helped her mother make Medicare insurance plan selections, I know how confusing the process can be. Northeast Senior Services is delighted that seniors living in NE Minneapolis are now able to get assistance in comparing and selecting Medicare plans — right here in the local community.” A second NE Minneapolis site became available on Wednesday, October 21 in Logan Park located at 690 13th Ave NE.

MAAA offers more than 35 Health Insurance Counseling sites across the seven county metropolitan area. Health insurance counseling is also available over the phone. Call the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433 and select option 3.

What’s Happening in Aging
The 2016 Health Care Choices Booklet is Now Available
The Minnesota Board on Aging publishes Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare annually. The guide provides valuable and helpful information on Medicare options. Printed copies are available by calling the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433. Select option 2 to leave a voicemail message with a contact name, address, phone number, and the number of copies needed. You can also access the2016 edition of Health Care Choices online.
MAAA Volunteers Staff Phone Bank to Help Manage Call Volume

By Colleen Fritsch, MAAA Volunteer Coordinator
October 15th marked the beginning of Medicare’s Open Enrollment for 2016 coverage. The increased volume of calls makes it our busiest time of year for staff and volunteers. Eleven MAAA volunteers are answering calls in our Medicare phone bank. Our volunteer Health Insurance Counselors have added 75 appointments at our community sites to assist with the increased requests for help. Our Outreach Volunteers have stepped it up as well; during open enrollment, they are giving over 30 presentations to community groups explaining Medicare and Part D. Our volunteers make it possible to reach more people in the community and we are so appreciative of their efforts. We’re here to help. Click here, for more information about our work within the community.
Welcome, New Outreach Intern
Meet Kelsey Heisler

Kelsey Heisler is interning with MAAA’s Outreach Team during the 2015-2016 academic year. Kelsey is pursuing her Master’s degree at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work, concentrating in Health, Disabilities, and Aging. Kelsey’s strong relationship with her grandparents piqued her interest in working with the aging population. She witnessed her grandparents’ struggle to maintain their independence. Now connected to resources and receiving some caregiving support, they are continuing to live independently. Kelsey says, “I want to help provide resources and services to older adults the same way my grandparents received services.” In her spare time, Kesley enjoys downhill skiing, reading, running, and spending time with family and friends. Welcome, Kelsey.
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