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Seniors Get the 411 on Medicare

Darien seniors learned about their options under Medicare  Tuesday morning in a talk at the library from Christine Crain, director of programs at the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging . She presented "Medicare 411," which Darien citizens like Fred Chang found beneficial.

"Trying to read through the Medicare Web site can be extremely confusing," Chang said. "This helped."

The talk was part of the Library's Health and Wellness Series of Events . SWCAA is a non-profit organization devoted to providing objective information on issues related to seniors. About half of those in attendance were on Medicare, while the other half were approaching the age to be eligible.

Crain outlined the different parts of the Medicare program and its various options, including benefits, prescription drug coverage and supplemental coverage. One topic that was brought up a lot was the Medicare Advantage Plan, which allows seniors the option to receive medical benefits through private insurance companies instead of through Medicare.

Crain urged the seniors to weigh their options and health needs before deciding on a plan. "You have to definitely do your homework," she said. "Unfortunately you don't know. You could be healthy today and get sick tomorrow."

Part D of Medicare, which covers prescription drugs, was also a big topic. Crain discussed the "donut hole," where seniors who spend between $2,840 and $4,550 on prescription drugs must pay all costs out of pocket. Crain said health care reform means that starting next year recipients will have to pay only half their drug costs if they fall in that range, and that the donut hole will continue to close in the coming years. "Health care reform is enhancing a lot of benefits for seniors," she said. "Each subsequent year the cost sharing for the Medicare beneficiary will get lower and lower."

Those in attendance said the talk cleared up a lot of confusion. "It's still very confusing, but I think it was a very good presentation," said Fran Principe. "I love that they have information to take home, and knowing that this agency is available is very helpful."

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