Health briefs for Nov. 2, 2013: VNA, hospital to host meeting about end-of-life care

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The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Hospice staff will host a conversation starter session from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Memorial Hospital. The topic of the seminar is how to broach the subject of end-of-life care with your family members.

Free conversation starter kits will be available, and refreshments will be provided.

For more information, call 970-871-7682 or visit www.theconversationproject.org.

VNA hosts flu clinics

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will host drop-in flu clinics at various Craig locations in the coming weeks.

Representatives will be administering flu shots and FluMist from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Walmart and from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Nov. 21 at Sunset Elementary School.

Treatments also will be available from noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 11 at the VNA’s building at 745 Russell St.

The cost is $25 for a flu shot, $35 for FluMist. Cash, check or insurance with card are accepted. All ages are welcome, but children younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For more information, call 970-871-7624 or visit www.nwcovna.org/flu.php.

VNA to offer free cardiovascular screenings Nov. 11

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will provide free cardiovascular screenings from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 11 at its Craig building at 745 Russell St. The screenings will include several aspects of cardiovascular health, such as total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, blood glucose and body mass index.

Those interested in receiving a screening must make an appointment by calling 970-875-1880.

VNA to offer diabetes weight-loss program

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will host a free Stop Diabetes, Start Living class from 8 to 9 a.m. Thursdays starting Nov. 14. The 16-week weight-loss group will include weekly weigh-ins and fat gram goals per week and is designed for 5 to 7 percent weight loss for those on the program.

For more information, call 970-871-7634.

Medicare patients can alter plans through Dec. 7

Open enrollment for Medicare Part D prescription plans and Medicare Advantage health plans is underway and continues until Dec. 7. Current Medicare beneficiaries interested in changing to a different plan must make a decision by Dec. 7.

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,” Marguerite Salazar, Colorado commissioner of insurance, said 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 call 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 about SHIP, visit http://dora.colorado.gov/ship or call 1-888-696-7213.

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