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Giving the gift of good health

Brenda Kohel

Elder Benefit Specialist for Douglas County

With Mother’s Day just past and Father’s Day on the way, many thoughts turn to doing something special for a loved one. Why not take some extra time to make sure Mom or Dad are making the most of their Medicare benefits?

You could possibly help them spring into better health or even save some money on their health care costs.

Medicare Part B covers many preventive health services and screenings including an annual Wellness Visit with the doctor. This visit provides an opportunity to talk with the doctor about specific health and risk factors and set up a plan for preventive health screenings without paying the Part B deductible or co-payment. Keep in mind, you must ask for the “annual Wellness Visit” by name when you are setting up the appointment and if the doctor orders lab work, an EKG, or other tests and services that are not considered “preventive,” the co-payment and deductibles may be billed. But remember, if there is a health problem, early detection could save a life. More information about the preventive tests and screenings covered by Medicare can be found in the Medicare and You 2014 handbook or at

What if Mom or Dad are struggling to keep up with health care costs?

You may be able to help them by telling them about Medicare-related programs designed for Medicare beneficiaries who have limited or low income and assets. “Medicare Savings Programs” can help qualified individuals by paying their Part B premium for them. That alone can save them over $100 per month. Some also have co-pays and deductibles paid, based on their income and assets. Another program known as “Extra Help” assists qualified individuals with prescription drug costs.

If Mom or Dad’s monthly income is less than $1,458 $1,966 for a married couple and their assets are less than $11,940 ($23,860 for a married couple) they may be eligible for one of these programs. Their home and car are not counted toward the asset limit.

If you have questions about these Medicare programs or think Mom or Dad may meet the eligibility requirements, contact me at 715-394-3611 or the Aging Disability Resource Center of Douglas County at 715-395-7533.