Program Offers Seniors Health Insurance Assistance

HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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violence, child custody issues and other civil matters. They do not handle criminal law issues.


Kentucky SHIP partners with the Department of Public Health Kentucky Prescription Assistance Program to help qualified persons find cut-rate prescription drug programs offered by drug manufacturers and other discount programs.


Legal Aid of the Bluegrass is located at 300 East Main Street in Lexington. Call (859) 233-4556 or visit its Web site at www.lablaw.org


SHIP has programs nationwide, including programs in every county in Kentucky. The SHIP Kentucky statewide hotline is (877) 293-7447 (option No. 2).

Mary Lou Campbell believes every senior in Kentucky needs to know about the Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) services available through the office of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass.


“I want people to know there is help,” said Campbell, who works in the Lexington office of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass. “It is frustrating to see people paying for things that we can do for free.”


Campbell said SHIP provides information, counseling and enrollment assistance at no cost to seniors and disabled individuals, their families and caregivers. The services are provided by a staff of well-trained local counselors who help people determine their eligibility for financial help. If the person is eligible, SHIP staff will help him or her file the necessary claim forms.


SHIP does not sell health insurance products. It is funded from federal taxpayer money under the Older Americans Act. Its goal is to educate seniors about health insurance coverage, benefits and consumer rights. The hope is that such information will protect consumers against fraud and empower them to make informed health insurance choices.


 “Our intake counselors have a wealth of knowledge on these benefits,” said Angela S. Zeek, public benefits and ombudsman unit manager in the Lexington office. The intake counselor asks new callers a few

PROGRAM OFFERS SENIORS HEALTH INSURANCE ASSISTANCE

questions before transferring the call to the benefit counselor, who will then be in an excellent position to help the caller. In the Lexington area, you can call 1-866-516-3051 to speak to an intake counselor.


“We collect certain information so that we can better assist them,” Zeek said. “It is not just Medicare we are focusing on. We focus on all the benefits: Medicaid, Social Security, veterans’ benefits and a whole host of other programs.”


SHIP counselors can help clients determine their eligibility for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as the food stamp program. They can help with troubleshooting. They can help low-income persons determine eligibility for financial help with dental care, hearing aids or eyeglasses.


Legal Aid of the Bluegrass also employs attorneys who will help low-income people with all kinds of civil legal matters, including drawing up a will or a power of attorney or with appeals concerning various issues with Social Security or Medicare. The attorneys may also help with predator lending issues, eviction, landlord-tenant issues or harassment by creditors, as well as divorce, domestic

MARTHA EVANS SPARKS

Martha Evans Sparks is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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