Covering healthcare for seniors

As many as one-third of the more than 85,000 seniors residing in the Upper Peninsula don’t have enough income to cover basic living expenses.  That’s according to a 2011 study by Wayne State University’s Seniors Count! project.

As health care costs continue to rise, seniors often need more help to pay for Medicare and prescription drug premiums.

“People come to us because they have difficulty affording their health care,” said Sherry Whitman of the Upper Peninsula Agency on Aging, which provides services for the entire region.

Medicare Premium Help is an outreach campaign that works to spread awareness and assist Michigan seniors with their health care premiums. The campaign is part of the nonprofit Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) and works through Michigan Area Agencies on Aging.

MMAP has already helped thousands of senior citizens since its inception in 1984, and has saved seniors millions of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses. The organization is looking to reach even more seniors this year with the Medicare Premium Help campaign.

“We want to enroll seniors in our region and ensure that they get the health
care they need,” said Whitman.

Seniors — and their family, caregivers and friends — can get help by calling 1.800.803.7174. Counselors are available to help seniors and people with disabilities understand their premium costs, determine if they’re eligible for premium payment assistance and enroll them in money-saving programs.

Eligibility is based on monthly income of up to $1,277 for singles and up to $1,702 for married couples.

“Anyone can apply; it doesn’t cost anything,” said Whitman “seniors should call today and see if they qualify for extra help.”

MMAP (Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program) is a free counseling program that can help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program and compare and enroll in Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage.  The program is free and provides unbiased, expert health benefit guidance. MMAP counselors are not connected with any insurance company.
MMAP works through the Area Agencies on Aging throughout Michigan.

MMAP is funded by a grant from the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging through funding received from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Medicare agency and a grant from the Administration on Aging.  More information is available by calling 1.800.803.7174.