Medicare Open Enrollment is the time of year when beneficiaries can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for the following year. Each year Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15-December 7. The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) encourages you to consider reviewing your Medicare drug or health care plan, and/or assist your loved ones in reviewing theirs. You can use the materials provided in NHCOA’s Medicare Open Enrollment toolkit to assist you in reviewing your options in order to find the coverage that best meets your needs. However, if you and your loved ones are satisfied with your current health plan, no action or change is required.
Medicare is health insurance for people 65 years or older. The U.S. Federal government provides this health care service from revenue collected through payroll taxes. If you’ve paid into Social Security and Medicare for 10 years as an employee, you are most likely eligible for Medicare benefits.
Following the three C’s is a good criterion to keep in mind when reviewing your current plan and making the decision whether or not to make changes. Read More
Understanding the new Health Insurance Marketplace can feel a lot like piecing together a puzzle. Despite the setbacks, the Marketplace is up and running. For community groups and advocates, it’s time to help our communities shop for health coverage that fits their many needs. For older adults, it’s time to get covered.
To make it simple, the Diverse Elders Coalition has created a simple flyer, “Why the ACA Matters to Our Communities,” which offers step-by-step instructions for enrolling in the Marketplace, as well as a rationale for the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as the ACA or Obamacare) and older people of color, LGBT older people and older immigrants. It’s available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.
Our member organization, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) has also created a special flyer on why the ACA matters to LGBT elders. Download here.
- Share this flyer with older people—age 50 and older—in your life to effectively explain how they can apply for health insurance
- Print this flyer for presentations, events or meetings to educate other leaders about why the ACA matters to older people of color, LGBT elders and older immigrants.
For more information on the ACA and its impact on diverse elders, visit diverseelders.org/our-health
Have a question about Obamacare and why it matters to diverse elders? Ask us on Twitter. @diverseelders Read More
Historically Southeast Asian Americans have faced significant barriers to accessing affordable health insurance and culturally and linguistically appropriate health care. These barriers have contributed to health disparities:
• Southeast Asian American communities experience high uninsurance rates; 26.7% of Hmong Americans live in poverty and 18.3% of Vietnamese Americans lack health coverage.
• Cervical cancer incidence rates are among the highest in the U.S. for Laotian, Vietnamese and Cambodian American women. Factors for this disparity have been attributed to low Pap smear rates, lack of preventive care prior to immigration and a lack of sensitivity by providers.
• Asian American adults aged 65 years and older were 30% less likely to have ever received the pneumonia shot compared to white adults of the same age group.
• One of the greatest health disparities between Southeast Asians and the general population is liver cancer, 80 percent of which is caused by chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Liver cancer rates for Vietnamese men are 13 times higher than rates for White men.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided many benefits to the Southeast Asian American (SEAA) community, and in particular, its elder population. The positive impacts have continued with the start of Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The ACA’s benefits include: Read More
Medicare’s Open Enrollment period is October 15 – December 7. This is when ALL people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014. You can find information on 2014 plans by visiting the Medicare Plan Finder. People with Medicare can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov to learn all about Medicare. If a person is satisfied that their current plan will meet their needs for next year, they don’t need to do anything.
The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) knows well that large numbers of older people of color and LGBT elders nationwide face financial difficulties, making Medicare critically important to their health and economic well-being. Did you know? 46% of Latinos, 43% of Asians, 52% of African Americans over the age of 55 and 92% of American Indians and Alaska Natives are covered by Medicare (based on different studies); and according to a national health study of LGBT older people, almost all (97%) had some form of healthcare insurance coverage, primarily through Medicare. Without Medicare, many older people of color and LGBT elders would be required to pay for health expenses on their own, accrue enormous debts, and likely not receive the health care they need. The Affordable Care Act has further strengthened this vital program.
HOW DOES THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AFFECT MEDICARE?
• Your Medicare coverage is protected. Medicare isn’t part of the Health Insurance Marketplace established by ACA, so you don’t have to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage. No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll still have the same benefits and security you have now. You don’t need to do anything with the Marketplace during Open Enrollment. Read More
The harms inflicted by discrimination reveal themselves in our bodies as we age — as people of color, as poor and low-income people, and as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The symptoms manifest as higher rates of high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, depression, social isolation and more. In medical charts throughout the country, our bodies record what it means to survive a life shaped by perpetual poverty, higher concentrations in low-wage jobs with no health insurance, thin retirement options and inadequate protections in the workplace. They depict our fractured relationships to health care — from cultural and linguistic barriers to overt bias and discrimination from health and aging providers, to a long-held, hard-earned distrust of medical staff internalized through years of differential treatment.
Our bodies confirm vividly the geographic dimensions of structural inequality, which can predict long-term health as early as childhood, based largely on where a person is born. We inhale the poison of inequality throughout our lives, and it inflames in our later years as a dismal diagnosis, a medical crisis or a preventable death. Yes, severe illness will surprise many of us at some point in our lives, and death is indiscriminate, but as empirical fact, poor health affects certain demographics disproportionately at earlier and higher rates, often the same people with no health coverage to manage the repercussions.
Oct. 1 aims to begin reversing these conditions. The health insurance marketplace established through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers opportunities to shop for state health insurance plans and begins improving coverage for the 47 million uninsured people in this country. Millions of people work in jobs with no health coverage, cannot afford insurance on their own and fall through gaps in public support that leave them uninsured or underinsured. Without insurance, people accrue unmanageable debt, delay health care and in turn watch their health worsen over time — a trajectory most often experienced by people of color, LGBT people and low-income people. These hardships intensify for older people who must also contend with age-related bias in the workplace and the challenges of paying for out-of-pocket expenses with meager incomes. An all-inclusive vision of health reform must incorporate the realities of aging as early as age 50. Read More
In just 9 days, individuals across the nation will be able to begin enrolling in the new Health Insurance Marketplace as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Webinar – Don’t Miss California’s ACA Enrollment Bus
Please join SEARAC for a webinar so you and your organization are prepared to help community members access health insurance on DAY ONE! This webinar will be California-specific and will focus on what you need to know about the INDIVIDUAL MANDATE and how to get your organization ready to help community members with ENROLLMENT into Medi-Cal and Covered California. To register for the webinar, please click here: http://tinyurl.com/SEARACenrollmentbus
What: Webinar – Don’t Miss California’s ACA Enrollment Bus
When: Thursday, September 26; 1pm – 2:30pm Pacific Time
September 18 marks the annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, a day to shine a spotlight on HIV/AIDS and its impact on the aging body. The Diverse Elders Coalition and our member organizations know well that this disease greatly affects our nation’s older people. In fact, adults 50 years of age and older make up the fastest growing population with HIV, and by 2015, more than half of Americans living with HIV/AIDS will be over 50.
While individuals with HIV/AIDS are living longer lives, older adults have more than three other (usually chronic) health conditions in addition to HIV versus their age peers without HIV. As a result, they have a host of health and services needs that neither HIV nor aging services providers are fully prepared to meet. Yet older adults have rarely been targeted in HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness campaigns. As a result, many do not realize that their behaviors can put them at risk for HIV infection. Additionally, health care providers may mistakenly assume that older patients are no longer engaged in high risk behaviors, and therefore do no initiate conversation about the importance of using protection and getting tested regularly.
This is why representatives from our member organizations SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and NHCOA (National Hispanic Council on Aging) are at Capitol Hill today for a briefing, reception and hearing to highlight the needs and challenges of older adults with and at risk for HIV. You can follow what happened and get live updates by following @nhcoa and @sageusa on Twitter. Read More
October is an important month for adults needing to secure insurance coverage. Not only is October 1st open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace, but October 15th is the beginning of the Medicare Part D Open Enrollment period. Once enrolled in a prescription drug plan, it’s easy to forget the importance of checking annually to make sure your current plan is the most appropriate and cost effective.
The lack of in-language assistance available to Asian American and Pacific Islander elders makes it challenging for many to understand and to complete the enrollment process for important benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging was founded to ensure that Asian American and Pacific Islander seniors were able to effectively access the programs, services, and benefits that are available to all older adults. Thirty-four years later, NAPCA operates federal employment programs, promotes healthy aging initiatives, and assists limited English speaking elders to better navigate federal programs such as Medicare.
Young Ko is a Korean Helpline representative for NAPCA. (Nelson Tang/NAPCA)
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced $67 million in grant awards to 105 Navigator grant applicants in Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces. These Navigator grantees and their staff will serve as an in-person resource for Americans who want additional assistance in shopping for and enrolling in plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning this fall. Also today, HHS recognized more than 100 national organizations and businesses who have volunteered to help Americans learn about the health care coverage available in the Marketplace. Read the full release here.
The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) is pleased to announce that its member organizations, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), and the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) were among those organizations recognized as a Champion for Coverage. These champions pitch in to help consumers understand the coming options for quality, affordable coverage. The DEC will officially be recognized as a Champion for Coverage in the coming weeks. Click here to learn more about organizations participating in Champions for Coverage.
The coalition also congratulates NHCOA who were among the 106 Navigator awardees. NHCOA will deploy Navigators in Dade County, Florida, and Dallas County, Texas, to enroll the uninsured Hispanic population in these two counties with a focus on members of this population that are socially isolated due to cultural and linguistic differences. Click here for a list of Navigator awardees or more information about Navigators and other in-person assisters.
Be sure to continue coming back to diverseelders.org to stay updated on the health insurance marketplaces and their impact on diverse elders.
Map of people that speak Spanish at home. Source: Badger, Emily, “Where 60 Million People in the U.S. Don’t Speak English at Home,” The Atlantic Cities
According to the Census Bureau, about 20% of people speak a language other than English at home. That’s 1 in 5 people! And over the years, this number has only grown. The Census Bureau has developed a map that shows in which parts of the country these people live. What the map shows is that there are people whose preferred language is not English in all but the most sparsely populated parts of the country. Language access is a civil right, and these rights are reflected in federal law. It is also becoming more common to see instructions on packages, advertisements, and other messages translated into languages other than English, as well. When it comes to language access, the policies of the United States promote inclusion.
Despite these efforts at inclusion, accessing many government programs poses unique challenges for older adults with limited English speaking ability. Programs like Medicare Part D (the prescription medication program) and the Affordable Care Act’s health exchanges rely on consumers to choose the plans that will balance value and health coverage. However, there are multiple studies from the implementation of Medicare Part D that state consumers do not choose the most economically efficient options. Most people, particularly those who prefer to speak in a language other than English, could benefit from learning more about their health care options. Read More
On July 30, Medicare turns 48. And for those 48 years, the program has been a lifeline for many older people across the United States, giving them access to necessary healthcare they might have otherwise not been able to afford or go without.
It was President Lyndon Johnson who signed Medicare into law on July 30, 1965. Before the enactment of Medicare, only 50% of older people age 65+ had health insurance and 35% of Americans over 65 lived in poverty, compared to 17% of those under 65. Medicare was the solution to ensure that no older American would be denied quality healthcare despite an inability to pay or at the expense of losing a lifetime of savings. Without the financial burden of paying healthcare costs for an older family member, Medicare also allowed families to save and invest in their own futures.
The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) knows well that large numbers of older people of color and LGBT elders nationwide face financial difficulties, making Medicare critically important to their health and economic well-being. Did you know? 46% of Latinos, 43% of Asians, 52% of African Americans over the age of 55 and 92% of American Indians and Alaska Natives are covered by Medicare (based on different studies); and according to a national health study of LGBT older people, almost all (97%) had some form of healthcare insurance coverage, primarily through Medicare. Without Medicare, many older people of color and LGBT elders would be required to pay for health expenses on their own, accrue enormous debts, and likely not receive the health care they need. Read More
When it comes to financial fraud and scams, elders are particularly vulnerable targets. In fact, USA Today reported that while people 60 and older make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 30 percent of fraud victims.
It’s such a problem that the FDIC and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last month launched “Money Smart for Older Adults,” a literacy curriculum for elders with tips on how to prevent identity theft and other common scams and how to prepare financially for life events. This blog post from NerdWallet has financial literacy tips aimed at seniors. Many other tools targeting seniors abound on the internet.
SEARAC Financial Literacy for Elders
But as I considered the tips and tools offered, it was hard for me to imagine a senior from the refugee and immigrant communities that the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) serves using these tools. In addition to the many reasons that already make elders easy targets for financial fraud and scams, many immigrant and refugee elders are even more vulnerable because of their lack of English proficiency. Southeast Asian American (Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese) elders also come from societies where they often don’t trust government or financial institutions because of long histories of war and political instability in those countries. Read More
Watch out, kids — don’t assume you can do things online without your grandma finding out. In fact, if you live in Ward 2, Grandma might be doing things online that you’ve never thought of, reads The Washington Post.
Harriet Carter-Brown, 63, of Washington, D.C., smiles as she looks at photos of lighthouses on her iPad during the twice weekly Connect to Community class in the basement of Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., on July 9, 2013.
Last week, I posted about the benefits of older adults getting online. The Washington Post just published an article about a program called Connecting to Community that teaches older adults in Washington, DC how to use an iPad and go online. The program has been successful at reducing isolation and will expand to other parts of Washington next month. Read More
Who doesn’t have a smart phone these days? Mobile technology is one of the fastest growing of the new technologies out there. And for many young and middle aged adults, it seems like the laptop is the technology of “yesteryear.” Yet many older adults, especially those over 65, may not own or know how to operate a computer. There’s a large divide between who is “plugged” in and who is not.
Across racial and ethnic groups, young people are more likely to use new technologies than older adults. For example, even though Hispanic households with middle- and high incomes have high rates of internet usages, older Hispanics are far less likely to use the internet. Overall, just 35% of Hispanics aged 65 and over own a computer, compared to over 70% of Hispanics overall.
We know diverse older adults endure economic insecurity, hunger, health inequities, and isolation. We also know that any one of these issues can make life difficult in general. Is the digital divide not something to be as concerned about? It is. The internet is a tool that can also offer solutions. The details of issues like economic insecurity and hunger are not frequently discussed and not well known among those that have not experienced it for themselves. However, the internet (specifically social media) is one way for older adults to expose their shared experiences to a larger audience. It also allows older adults to escape isolation by finding community online and staying connected to friends and family, even if many miles away. Read More
Two Older LGBT Hispanic men at a SAGE 2011 health fair
With the rapid growth of our diverse population, our country is becoming more beautiful than ever. But unfortunately, there are still some groups that are not well understood by the nation’s service providers, or by local, state and federal governments. One of those groups is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) older adults. And in order to better understand the reality of this diverse community, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) conducted an analysis through a literature review, focus groups (one was held at The SAGE Center; SAGE is fellow member organization of the Diverse Elders Coalition) and in-depth interviews with LGBT Hispanic older adults, including the service providers who work with them. Read More