Get on the bus and check out your Medicare options

Get on the bus.

Carson residents, especially seniors using Medicare and Medicaid can find a better way to health care Monday as the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services brings its "big Medicare bus" to Carson City.

The bus is equipped with Medicare experts to help seniors through the sometimes arduous process of picking out a plan that's right for changing medical needs.

For many, it will be just in time for open enrollment season, Medicare officials said.

"We're talking about Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 for open enrollment," said Medicare spokesman Jack Cheevers. "Recipients will get to review coverage with experts to help them walk through it - and change plans if they want to.

"A lot of older people, they want to talk to someone face to face - that's what we're doing."

Workers and volunteers from the Carson City Senior Citizens Center will help guide seniors through paperwork. Gerontology students from the University of Nevada, Reno will also be on hand to help seniors on computers.

Dr. Charlotte Yeh, regional administrator for Medicare, will also be on hand to help answer general questions about the direction of Medicare and new services it provides.

"We're going to talk about low-income subsidy. It's worth about $3,600 a year," Cheevers said. "What people may not know is for the subsidy, you have to apply through the Social Security Administration - they review applications and if you qualify you receive the drug subsidy and drugs almost for free.

"There are questions about our programs that people can get answers to - in person."

Perhaps the most important subject of the day is fraud, Cheevers said.

"Every time open enrollment season comes, the most important thing people can know is who they can give their financial information to," he said. "Salespeople for (some of) these plans should not come knocking down your door or calling you.

"It's important people don't just give out their financial information over the phone. We see fraud cases over and over again - it's the biggest thing we try to avoid."

The Medicare bus, scheduled to be open 11 a.m-12:30 p.m. Monday at the senior center parking lot, will also urge recipients to assess their health needs, review their current health and drug coverage, compare it with other plans, and choose a plan that's best for them.

"Carson City is always an important stop on our tour," Cheevers said. "People are receptive to help - and there are lots of people and resources in (Northern) Nevada that can help."

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 881-1219.

If you go

WHAT: Medicare bus

WHEN: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Carson City Senior Citizens Center, 911 Beverly Drive

CALL: 1-800-772-1213.

What it is: The tour bus will help recipients find the right Medicare plan during open enrollment season. By taking a little time today to review your current plan's coverage for 2008 and comparing it to other plans available, you will be able to get on with your plans the rest of the year.

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