NCBA, Medicare and YOU!

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Starting November 15 through December 31, the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc. (NCBA), will be available to help you learn about the new benefits offered by Medicare.

Medicare offers you more than ever! The program provides information and tools to help you make the best health decisions for your individual needs. Specifically, it offers a one–time "Welcome to Medicare" physical exam, and it covers preventive services that keep you healthy or prevent illness. This includes cardiovascular screening, cancer tests (breast cancer screenings/mammograms), cervical and vaginal cancer screening (pap tests and pelvic exams), colon cancer screenings (colorectal), prostate cancer screening (PSA), flu shots, pneumococcal, hepatitis B, bone mass measurements, diabetes screening and self–management training, glaucoma tests, and other health–information services such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and depression.

Preventive services are for both men and women who are currently Medicare recipients. When inquiring about a preventive service either on the Internet or when reading your Medicare 2007 handbook, you will see one of the following symbols next to each preventive service. The symbol tells you for whom Medicare covers the test.

NCBA

In addition to the preventive services, Medicare offers prescription drug coverage. For those of you who do not have prescription drug coverage through an employer, union, or another source, Medicare now offers insurance that will cover a number of your prescription drugs. Medicare prescription drug coverage is insurance that covers both brand–name and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies in your area.

To help you better understand the benefits of signing up for Medicare prescription drug coverage, NCBA staff is available to help you select an appropriate drug plan. An NCBA staff person will sit down with you and help you decide which prescription drug plan best suits you. We will also help you enroll in a plan via the Internet. Generally, computer–based enrollment is not time–consuming. It provides an opportunity for you to sit down with a trained professional who can answer your questions, and it provides an opportunity for you to make an informed decision for yourself.

NCBA staff are also available to help you answer questions about Medicare over the phone, and in some instances we will come directly to you. To help seniors better understand the benefits of enrolling in a Medicare sponsored drug plan, NCBA frequently hosts question–and–answer sessions in local churches and/or senior centers. These sessions are usually moderated by a State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Counselor, a representative from the Centers from Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), or a guest speaker. Our question–and–answer sessions are designed so that attendees can be both student and teacher. The ultimate goal of these sessions is that the attendees will leave the session, return to their community and share with others.

In the interim, if you currently have prescription drug coverage but have questions about your coverage and are thinking about switching insurance carriers, NCBA recommends that you ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will my premium and costs change in 2007?
  2. Do I need more coverage in 2007? Will the prescription drugs that I take be covered by your plan in 2007?
  3. Am I satisfied with my current plan’s service?

If you determine that you are satisfied with your current drug coverage, you probably do not have to sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan. However, if you are not satisfied with your current drug coverage for any reason and are interested in learning more or signing up for a Medicare prescription drug plan, you can enroll online by visiting www.medicare.gov, or by calling 1–800–MEDICARE (a Medicare representative will be available to assist you 24 hours, 7 days a week), or you can visit your local Social Security office.

NCBA staff also is available to assist you with one–on–one computer–based enrollment, answer questions over the telephone, help you complete forms, and attend or host events in your community. For further information, contact Angie Boddie, Director of Health Programs at the National Caucus and Center On Black Aged, Inc., at 202–637–8400 or visit www.ncba–aged.org.

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