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Two Medicare Boot Camp sessions open

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | 8:30 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Two Medicare Boot Camp sessions aimed at providing information to new Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers will be held Thursday at the Community Room of the Boone Electric Cooperative.

The purpose of the two-hour workshops is to provide information people need to make decisions about their medical coverage, Kay Barbee, a Medicare outreach consultant with the Central Missouri Agency on Aging, said.

If you go:

Date: Dec. 15

Time: 1:30-3:30 p.m. or 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Location: Boone Electric Cooperative - Community Room

To register contact Kay Barbee at 573-424-7632



During each session, Barbee will help differentiate between the various options, plans and programs available through Medicare. She'll also address questions or concerns people may have about their coverage.

"I know we get at least two calls a week from someone saying 'I'm going on Medicare. What’s it all about?'" she said. "There’s a huge need for information."

Barbee stressed that there is no "one size fits all" solution to the Medicare puzzle. Everyone's situation and decision process is different. For this reason, she likes to keep the size of the workshops between 10 and 25 people, so that there’s plenty of opportunities for interaction, she said.

As a certified State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor, she also offers unbiased counseling to participants who want to discuss their options one-on-one, she said. She bases her counsel on what she calls the "four c's": "cost, convenience, coverage and customer service."

"All of those play a role in you getting the maximum out of your benefits,” Barbee said. "We want to catch people so they know all their options and make a choice that is in their best interest for their situation."

Loretta Sanders said having information and knowing what options are available were the greatest benefits of attending a mini boot camp held in her mother's home in October. Her mother invited Barbee to speak to a group of fellow retirees after finding out that the company she had worked for was changing the medical coverage that she'd had for over 50 years.

"I noticed the fear," Sanders said. "A lot of them had had the same medical coverage for 50 or 60 years. They didn’t know how many options they had or what they were."

The mini boot camp cleared up a lot of the confusion and prepared them for the conversations they had to have with the company's representatives regarding their future medical needs, she said.

Barbee plans to conduct three more boot camps in Columbia next year, in addition to traveling around the 19 counties that the Agency on Aging serves, she said. She wants to get the word out about the services they provide, as well as make sure that the people who need the information and guidance have it.

"It's very critical to know about this stuff before you need it," she said.


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