Confused about Medicare options? Free event can help clarify

Medicare
Submitted photo The late “Poppa B” handing out Halloween candy

When “Poppa B,” Sheletta Brundidge’s widowed father-in-law, relocated from his home state of Ohio to live with his son’s family in Minnesota, it was an adjustment for everyone. That included finding the best Medicare plan for the retired union auto worker and grandfather. “When he moved in with us we had to change his coverage.

“We had a hundred plans to choose from and we felt overwhelmed,” said Brundidge, a podcaster, broadcaster, comedian, and small business owner. “What plan covered his meds, his doctors? We knew we had to get it right; you pick wrong and you pay more out-of-pocket.”

Brundidge credits the Senior LinkAge Line, a free statewide service that helps older Minnesotans and their caregivers connect to assistance, with guiding her family to select a plan that best covered their beloved senior.

“They are unbiased. No pressure and no sales. They helped us narrow down which plan was the proper one,” said Brundidge. “Without talking to them, we might have picked wrong and gotten stuck.”

Now Brundidge wants to help other seniors and their families to get the same knowledge. On November 5, she will host a free seminar and free catered lunch at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in North Minneapolis. It will include a helpful presentation from information specialists at the Senior LinkAge Line.

“It’s crucial for the community to learn how to cost-compare Medicare plans. Middle to high-income consumers do this all the time and they pay less,” said Jetta Wiedemeier Bower, outreach manager for Senior LinkAge Line.

“Data shows us communities of color do not do this as often and they lose out on opportunities to pick the best plan that will save them money.”

The event comes at a critical time on the calendar. This year, Medicare Open Enrollment is from October 15 to December 7. Whether they’re still working or retired, every American aged 65 and older must decide whether to keep their current Medicare plan or get a different or new one.

This year, there have been significant changes to Medicare—deductibles and premiums have changed, and some drugs are capped while others are available at a more affordable price. For the upcoming year, Minnesotans have 101 Medicare plans to choose from, making this important decision a complicated one.

“For maybe 30 years of their working lives, their HR department picked their plan. Now they have all these options and have to figure it out themselves,” said Wiedemeier Bower. “On radio and TV they hear pitches from celebrities or professional athletes. We don’t sell any particular plan. We are neutral and give them the information to make a choice.”

The informational event is open to everyone in the community, with adult children and grandchildren of seniors welcomed. People who are approaching the Medicare age of 65 are also encouraged to attend to begin to inform themselves about the process and their upcoming options.

The event will include a question-and-answer period when participants can ask about their specific needs. “We want them to bring questions. It’s OK to say, I don’t know what I’m doing, help me make a great decision,” said Wiedemeier Bower.

Last year, Brundidge’s father-in-law passed away at age 83. She said having the right insurance for him made his care during his final years easier for him and his family. “I want other caregivers to get the same education I did. Don’t throw darts at the board,” said Brundidge. “I want to simplify it for everybody.”

Let’s Talk Medicare! with Sheletta Brundidge,” a free event with catered lunch, takes place on Saturday, November 5 from 10:30 am to noon, at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, 3355 N. 4th St, Minneapolis. For more info, visit: bit.ly/Sheletta-nov5

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