Get to know your benefits

News and Views from Rita

Be cheerful in the merry month of May, a harbinger of Summer’s advent, and good times will soon be here. That is, if you all vote ... the right way. JOKE! Seriously, here are five reasons to vote:

1. To speak your mind, to tell elected officials how you feel about health care, Social Security, the environment, education (especially if you have children or grand children).

2. To control our future, elected officials make decisions that affect our daily lives.

3. To stop complaining and make the people you elect know what you want them to do.

4. To know that you are contributing to our democracy and not being ruled by a tyrant.

5. To be able to lord it over people who don’t vote.

Where’s the Advantage?

I have been asked why we cannot get Medicare Advantage plans in Alaska and the answer is simple: We do not have enough people in Alaska to satisfy the insurance companies needs.

Medicare Part B

For people who are new to Medicare, be aware that you will be paying $104.90 per month for the Part B premium (which will be deducted from your Social Security payment). That is if your modified adjusted gross income is under $85,000 if you file individually, or $170,000 if you’re married and file jointly.

Here are some of the Part B benefits, which Medicare may pay all or part of, based on medical necessity: one annual wellness exam, a one time abdominal aneurism aortic ultrasound screening for people at risk, emergency room services, mental heath services, pap smears and pelvic exams, bone loss measurements, annual flu shots, blood and cardiovascular screening, limited chiropractic services, clinical lab services, durable medical equipment, prosthetics, screenings for colon cancer, glaucoma, diabetes supplies and services, pneumonia and hepatitis B vaccines, medical nutritional therapy, occupational therapy, limited physical therapy and annual alcohol misuse screening.

All of these screenings are contingent upon your primary care doctor or other primary care practitioner accepting assignment. Assignment is an agreement by your doctor or provider to be paid directly by Medicare, to accept the payment amount Medicare approves for the service, and not to bill you for any more than the Medicare deductible and coinsurance, which is any amount you may be required to pay as your share of the cost for services after you pay any deductibles.

Rita Hatch is an Older Persons Action Group board member and volunteers for OPAG’s Medicare assistance program. Contact her at 276-1059 in Anchorage, toll-free statewide at 1-800-478-1059 or by email at