Simplifying Medicare for the Latino Community

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Choosing a Medicare package that best suits your needs can prove to be quite confusing for most senior citizens across the country. For Latinos, it is especially difficult. That is where Jeanet Reyes-Cordero, community relations specialist consumer markets for BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, steps in.

“There is so much information out there and we keep telling our communities to go online and visit our website to learn more about Medicare. However, we are seeing that in the Latino community that is a difficult for our seniors who are not as computer savvy as others,” said Reyes. “That is why, for me, it is particularly important to do as much community outreach as I can to help educate and prep those turning 65 years old so they can live a healthy life.”

Throughout this month, Reyes traveled across Chicagoland to help simplify how Medicare works and offer seniors advice on how to assess their current lifestyle in order to select the Medicare plans that best works for them. “We are here to help Latinos learn the ins and outs of Medicare and prep them on the next phase of their life. Really, we want to focus on this information and take it into the Latino community because it is so critical. Medicare is not easy, you have all these parts. You have A, B, C, and D…it is a whole new way of learning the alphabet. It is about simplifying how people view Medicare so they can utilize it as much as possible.” Reyes singled out some of the more important key points for Latino seniors to keep in mind when enrolling for Medicare this coming fall.

Key Points

  • There are different paths. We find that the Latino community does not know the difference between Part A, B, C, and D. Basically, if they worked or their spouse has worked they receive an insurance card. Sometimes they receive the red, white, and blue card and do not realize that is their insurance card. So during our seminars we help them understand and break down what is included in each plan; whether is its Part A or Part B…outpatient services and deductibles. I recently visit the Pilsen community where we found many were confused. I had people tell me, ‘I got this bill from the hospital and I thought Medicare took care of everything.’ That is a big misnomer because Medicare was never devised to cover 100 percent of Medicare costs.
  • The whole concept when you go into that age group is the Federal government, just like now with the Affordable Care Act, wants everyone to be covered. The same concept always applied for people over 65 years-old when it comes to Medicare. We want you have to some type of coverage. If you do not have coverage there is going to be a penalty. We want the community to know there are programs to help people out if they earn really low-income. We offer them the options and resources to help guide them. We talk about the options better for them if they do not have money for drug coverage. If people need assistance for the premium, which is just Medicare, there are programs for that. It is really important for seniors to know they have options. You are not stuck.
  • People do not know what their health is going to be like next year. It may be the same or may be different. One must assess, ‘what was last year like for me?’ ‘Maybe what I will need next year will be different that what I needed this year…so I may change my drug plan.’ You must ask yourself a lot of questions. Assess what your needs are, what your health is like, what your future might be based on what happened this past year.
  • Between October 15th and December 7th, we call this time your ‘shopportunity’ to do some research on Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, and Drug Coverage. Attend as many seminars as you can and take down notes. We tell the Latino community to take ownership of their health and the decision they make in the next phase of their life.

BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois Medicare Seminars

May 27
Understanding Medicare
2 p.m., Maywood Public Library, 121 S. 5th Street, Maywood

May 28
Understanding Medicare
2 p.m., Chicago Public Library – Beverly Branch, 1962 West 95th Street, Chicago
Understanding Medicare
2 p.m., Chicago Public Library – Garfield Ridge Branch, 6348 S. Archer Ave., Chicago

May 29
The New Health Care Reform Act — What Every Medicare Beneficiary
Should Know:

9:30 a.m., Lansing Public Library, 2750 Indiana Avenue, Lansing

Understanding Medicare
10:00 a.m., Presence- Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center- 7th floor- Centennial Room A,
5645 W. Addison, Chicago

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