I’ve gained some insight into the North Country since we planted our feet here at the end of last year. More than 50% of residents here are 64 years and older! The communities of the North Country once had an incredible set of industries: There is, of course, the papermill which continues to be a foundation of the Berlin area. A gentleman I met worked for Converse Shoe Company ( I came up in Maine, a major shoe-producing area of America–but never knew those super-cool Converse All-Star shoes were made right next door!) I met another gal who worked at a bearing factory and many others who worked for many companies that helped build America.
Another thing I have discovered (but without surprise) is that the typical resources that exist in a thriving community have dwindled. For those seniors that remain long after industry has left the area behind, they are Truly struggling to get help with the advice and services they need. So far, the most stunning example of this lack of services is that so many of the clients we are meeting who are on the Medicare Program are only getting Part A & B of Medicare, and that translates to ENORMOUS medical bills and no coverage for the Part D drugs they get at the pharmacy.
I ran into this in Northern Maine a number of years back and was flabbergasted at the lack of Medicare education that existed in the area. There are, of course, fine organizations like ServiceLink that are tasked to educate seniors about Medicare. Still, they are overwhelmed, and often their hands are tied to what they can offer for meaningful assistance. If you are wondering why only having Medicare Parts A &B is a problem, then pay close attention:
When a senior on Medicare has only Parts A & B without a Medi-Gap plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C of Medicare), then the senior is responsible for about 20% of most of their expenses. There are substantial deductibles like $1600 for Part A, your Hospital Insurance, and $226 for Part B services, like doctor visits, labs, x-rays, and much more. Part B also has a 20% Co-Insurance on services like Chemo-therapy and radiation or oxygen and Durable Medical Equipment.
From the seniors that have been visiting our office and in our visits around the State of NH, we have seen an astounding lack of knowledge, a lack of assessing their needs yearly, and folks who have just plain been spending extreme amounts of money on expenses they did not need to cover themselves. I sat with a client yesterday who told me their story. I listened closely, and as I listened, I became choked up and also a little angry at how she and her husband (both suffering from cancer) had been overlooked. They had spent thousands of dollars a year to cover expenses they shouldn't have had to pay. After spending some time with clients, we look them in the eye and seriously tell them we are about to save them thousands of dollars a year on their Medicare expenses. We are often greeted with tears of joy and incredible sighs of relief. Does it get any better than that?
Do yourselves a favor, and review your situation RIGHT NOW.
Brad Dyer is CEO/Founder of Hometown Senior Solutions, an Agency that specializes in providing expertise to seniors primarily around Medicare Health Plan options and many other issues seniors wrestle with. He is a Licensed Insurance Broker in Maine, Texas, and New Hampshire.