Does Your Parent Need A Cell Phone For Emergencies? Here’s The One.

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By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

Dad rarely travelled outside of a 10 mile radius of his home. The one or two times each year that he needed to go farther, he would enlist someone to drive with him. So, I never pressed the issue of getting a cell phone for emergencies.

When I showed him my newest phone, he dismissed it saying,” The buttons are too small. I can’t read that screen. I’m hard of hearing, you know!”

Then came the accident.

Dad was driving back from the car dealership, took a wrong turn onto the New Jersey Turnpike, got lost and tried to find his way back through a neighborhood he had never seen before. Peering sideways to read the street signs, he veered into a parked car. Crash!!

My father was a very lucky man. The owners of the parked car were looking out their kitchen window when it happened. They rushed to help him.

He climbed out of his car, shaken, but not injured. At first, the police thought he was drunk. When my father told the police he was a diabetic and could not drink, they worried that his blood sugar was too low.

Eventually, Dad convinced them that he didn’t need an ambulance, just someone to take care of his car and give him a ride home. Those good samaritans who witnessed the accident called someone to take care of the car. The car repairman took my Dad home.

My father waited for several days before telling me about the accident. He knew before I said a word that I would urge him to give up driving. He did stop driving shortly after that incident. It had scared him that much!

It scared me, too. What if nobody had been around to help?

I wish that my Dad had had a Jitterbug phone.

Jitterbug cell phones are designed to be easy to use with big, back-lit buttons, large text, and a powerful speaker for loud, clear conversations.

What makes the Jitterbug phone perfect for seniors is the live, 24 hour operator service. The operators will make calls for you, assist you with finding a phone number from a directory or add names to your phone list. (5 minutes are deducted from your minutes for each operator assist.)

The best part is there are no contracts and no long distance roaming fees. You choose the plan that’s right for you (as low as $10 per month.) You can even share minutes with another family member.

If your parent likes to go out and about but you worry, get your parent this phone for the holidays or any gift giving occasion. The price of the phone is very modest — $147. The peace of mind for a caregiver is priceless.

To learn more about the Jitterbug phone and service plans, click here.

Jitterbug Phones with Feature List

photo courtesy of GreatCall, Inc.

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Medicare Part D – Open Enrollment Ends Dec. 31- Don’t Miss It!

What’s all the fuss about the Medicare Prescription Drug Program?

Open enrollment started on November 15th and runs to December 31st. This is the time when anyone can change from one plan to another without paying a premium penalty. If your parent is already enrolled in a program, you may be wondering why you need to worry about this.

Medicare and health care advocates in every state are trying to get the word out that the rates are changing. There are major rate increases coming to the most subscribed plans, while some of the smaller plans are decreasing rates. Here in California rates in some plans are increasing by 31%.

All seniors should reevaluate their Medicare Drug plans to see if it still makes sense to stay where they are.  They can check Medicare’s website for help with choosing a plan that covers the specific prescriptions that they need at a cost they can afford. It is important to do it now before the enrollment period ends.

Can there really be that much of a difference?

Yes.

This year doing nothing could be very expensive for your parent. Monthly premiums could increase substantially. Or, you may discover that required medications are not covered by your plan. 

And, of course, there is the highly confusing problem of the “donut hole.” I don’t know who invented this “cute” name but it is a gap in coverage that can take a lot out of your pocketbook.  Here’s how it works:

You enroll in a plan and pay a monthly premium. You pay for your prescriptions until the deductible is reached. Once you have met the deductible of $265, the basic prescription drug plan will pay 75% of your drug costs and you will pay the remaining 25% until your total drug costs reach $2,400.

Then, you are responsible for 100% of your drug costs between $2,401 and $5,451.25. This gap in coverage, the “donut hole”, requires that you pay $3050.25 out of your own pocket before Medicare pays any more for you.

While this is happening, you are still paying your monthly premium. If you get to December 31st without going past $5451.25 prescription costs, there is no additional help. You start the new year meeting the deductible again.

Once your total drug costs reach $5,451.25, the basic prescription drug plan will pay 95% of your additional prescription costs and you will pay up to 5% (or a small co-payment) of your remaining drug costs for the rest of the calendar year.

Each insurance company that offers Medicare Drug coverage has the option to add benefits. Each company can also determine which drug they will or won’t cover. Some companies will pay for certain generic drugs during the coverage gap while others pay nothing.

There are so many plans, with different options,  that vary from state to state, that you need to evaluate before you sign up.  It’s just plain confusing!

Fortunately, every state has Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Programs. You can find someone in your area to provide free counseling about the plans that would be right for you. You can attend workshops on choosing the best plan.

Before you contact the Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program in your area, it’s a good idea to figure out your total drug costs for the past year and make a list of your regular prescriptions so you can compare it with the list of approved drugs for each plan.

It’s work to do this, I know. It is so tempting to just stay with the plan your parent already has.

Don’t do it! Make time now for your parent (or yourself) to find the best plan that is available. You’ll be glad you did.