Health briefs for Dec. 7, 2013: VNA event honoring loved ones takes place Monday

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Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will host the Celebration of Light Tree event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at 745 Russell St.

People can celebrate the memory of loved ones who have passed away by placing a personalized ornament on a community Christmas tree. Ornaments and supplies for notation will be provided.

You are welcome to take your ornament home after the holidays.

For more information, call Sandy Beran at 970-871-7682.

VNA, Social Services offer insurance advice for Craig residents

Do you have questions about health insurance?

A representative from Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will be available to answer questions from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Dec. 17 in December at the Boys and Girls Club of Craig.

Additionally, a representative of Moffat County Social Services will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and Dec. 18 at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.

Drop-in assistance is available for families, individuals and small businesses interested in learning their options for insurance through Connect for Health Colorado.

If you are unable to attend but still have questions, you can call the VNA in Craig at 970-871-7664, Social Services at 970-824-8282, ext. 30 or email assistmoffat@nwcovna.org.

Today last chance for Medicare patients to alter plans

Open enrollment for Medicare Part D prescription plans and Medicare Advantage health plans is underway and continues until today. Current Medicare beneficiaries interested in changing to a different plan must make a decision by today.

New plans become effective Jan. 1, 2014.

“This is a critical time for consumers on Medicare to review their coverage and make sure it meets their needs,” said Marguerite Salazar, Colorado Commissioner of Insurance, in a press release from the Colorado Division of Insurance.

People should evaluate their Medicare plan each year and because plan prices, benefits and networks change, even people who are happy with their current plan should use this time to review their coverage. The Plan Finder tool at www.medicare.gov can be very helpful in comparing one plan to another.

Colorado consumers can call their local State Health Insurance Assistance Program at 1-888-696-7213 for help. SHIP is housed in the Colorado Division of Insurance and provides personal assistance to anyone in Colorado.

Consumers also can contact Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227.

“SHIP is a key component to our mission of consumer protection,” Salazar said. “The counselors’ expertise is a great consumer resource. It’s free, unbiased and no one is trying to sell you anything.”

Unfortunately, open enrollment also brings the risk of unscrupulous sales activities. Here are a few key facts to remember as Medicare beneficiaries review their plans.

• Legitimate insurance carriers do not sell Medicare plans door-to-door.

• Contacting you by phone is inappropriate unless you requested it or you already are the carrier’s customer.

• Insurance carriers should not start selling one product, and then switch to another, unless you requested this sales approach in writing.

• If an event is advertised as “educational,” no sales pitch should be made at the event.

For more information on SHIP, visit dora.colorado.gov/SHIP or call 1-888-696-7213.

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