Thursday, April 28 , 2016, 5:43 pm | Fair 67º

Santa Barbara Village Hosting Free Workshop on Medicare’s Prescription Plans

By Naomi Kovacs for Santa Barbara Village |

Santa Barbara Village is pleased to host a free workshop on "Making Sense of Medicare's Prescription Drug Plans."

The workshop will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Bronfman Family Jewish Community Center, 524 Chapala St. in Santa Barbara, and is open to the general public. Whether someone is new to Medicare or not, attendees will gain useful knowledge about Medicare’s prescription plans and related information.

Presenter Gary Clancy, a volunteer counselor with the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP), will help attendees better understand Medicare’s prescription drug plans. There will be an emphasis on Part D prescription drug plans, but attendees will also learn comprehensive details about Parts A and B, Supplemental plans, Advantage plans, recent changes and more.

“Medicare can be confusing,” said Naomi Kovacs, executive director of Santa Barbara Village. ”We’ve timed this workshop strategically, with Medicare’s Part D drug plan annual enrollment period starting Oct. 15 and continuing through Dec. 7.”

That is the time frame for people to enroll or make changes to their exiting drug plans.

“Our aim is to help people to understand Medicare better and to make the best decisions they can for themselves regarding their options,” Kovacs said.

For people new to Medicare, the workshop will clarify what is available to them. For those already on Medicare, they will find out how to evaluate their current drug plan coverage, understand which options best fit their current or changing needs, and determine if it is in their best interest to switch plans.

“It was important to us to have HICAP lead the workshop,” Kovacs said, “because HICAP provides knowledgeable, free, and unbiased assistance for people on Medicare.”

The organization hopes this presentation will also introduce local seniors to, or remind them about, this valuable free community resource. In addition to providing Medicare counseling, HICAP also helps people understand supplemental insurance, HMOs, long-term care insurance, and provides information and assistance with understanding Medicare benefits and rights, solving medical billing problems, filing claims and appeals, and comparing insurance plans.

This workshop will be the first in a new quarterly series of presentations Santa Barbara Village will host with HICAP on Medicare and long-term care insurance related matters. In December, the topic will be "Medicare Plans & Changes" plus the component on the Affordable Care Act; in March, the focus will be on "Long-Term Care Insurance"; and in June, the focus will be on helping those "New to Medicare."

To RSVP, email [email protected] or call 805.729.5038. Parking: Limited parking will be available on site, or the city’s Paseo Nuevo Mall parking lot is nearby.

Santa Barbara Village is a nonprofit membership organization serving seniors age 50 and better who wish to remain living at home and independent. For more information, click here or call 805.729.8828.

— Naomi Kovacs is executive director of Santa Barbara Village.

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