Medicare Peer Counseling Saves Bronx Seniors Thousands in Drug Costs
Computer is Essential Tool in Selecting Plans, Saving Money
A new Medicare Peer Counseling program in the Bronx has saved low-income seniors thousands of dollars on prescription drugs costs in just four months. “This program has saved us a lot of money,” explained participant Alejandra Ruiz to the Bronx Times,”It’s great for seniors, especially since many of us were unaware of the pitfalls.”
Organized by OATS Program Director Dee Daugherty, the initiative brings older adults who are trained on computer and Medicare basics together with senior citizens who need information and enrollment assistance with the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. “With so few seniors using the internet today, these peer counseling clinics are the best way for a lot of people to get the information they need,” says peer counselor Areatha Bryant, age 77.
The clinics will serve more than 100 clients by the May 15th enrollment deadline, providing intensive, one-on-one assistance with Medicare tools available on the Internet, as well as general information, referrals and guidance. Most seniors who attend the clinics are simply confirming that they are signed up for appropriate plans, or want basic information about the Part D program and how it might benefit them. But several clients will save hundreds of dollars per year due to information provided at the clinics, and one 70-yeear-old gentleman will save more than $1,500 per year as a result of switching to a plan that provides more appropriate coverage.
News coverage of the clinics has been very positive, with coverage appearing on Bronx 12 News, The Daily News, El Diario and The Bronx Times. The program is supported with funding from City Councilmember Annabel Palma, JPAC for Older Adults and the Statewide Senior Action Council. OATS is working in partnership with JPAC for Older Adults, Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, Soundview Community in Action, Bronx River Senior Center, and the Castle Hill Senior Center to implement the program, which will continue through May, 2006.