Craig health briefs for Nov. 30, 2013: VNA offers insurance advice for Craig residents

— Do you have questions about health insurance?

A representative from the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will be available to answer questions from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Dec. 17 at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig. 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, contact the VNA in Craig at 970-871-7664 or assistmoffat@nwcovna.org.

VNA event honoring loved ones takes place Dec. 9

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will host the seventh annual Celebration of Life 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.

Hayden senior center to host holiday party

The Haven will host its annual community Christmas party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Haven Community Center in Hayden.

The event will be a kickoff to holiday festivities, including the Hayden Holiday Stroll on Dec. 7. The party will have chili, music, Santa Claus and great company.

For more information, call 970-875-1888.

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,” 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 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 are already 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 http://dora.colorado.gov/SHIP or call 1-888-696-7213.

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