Commissioner Kim Holland schedules health care sessions

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 10-Nov-2010

The Oklahoma Insurance Department will be holding counseling sessions over the next few weeks to help connect low-income seniors with health care subsidies, Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland announced today (Wednesday, November 10).

Extra Help — previously called LIS — was established by the U.S. Social Security Administration to provide assistance to low-income seniors in the Medicare system. For those who qualify, Extra Help will pay all or part of the monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments.

In a release sent to CapitolBeatOK, Commissioner Holland said, “In an uncertain economy, Oklahomans who already face tough times can find themselves even more concerned about their future.  Many are worried about having to choose between affording their prescription drugs and paying their other bills.”

Holland added that though several thousand Oklahoma seniors are eligible for Extra Help, many don’t know they qualify for these benefits — which could translate into as much as $3,900 a year in savings.

Some seniors are automatically enrolled into Extra Help, such as those eligible for full Medicare and Medicaid benefits, Social Security Income (SSI) recipients with Medicare and Medicare Savings Programs participants. Others, who may qualify based on their income and resources, must apply for the assistance through the Social Security Administration.

“I am dedicated to making sure Oklahoma seniors and their caregivers are aware of every resource available to them,” she added.  “It’s so important that our department conduct this kind of outreach into the community, and I’m confident we will be able to help many seniors save money.”

Four events are planned to offer seniors individualized information on Extra Help and their eligibility.  The events will be held in Del City and Guthrie, but Holland emphasized that seniors can always talk to a counselor over the phone by calling the Insurance Department’s Senior Health Insurance Counseling Program (SHIP).

Oklahoma’s SHIP program advises seniors on choices for Medicare coverage and answers other questions for Medicare beneficiaries. To find out more about the Extra Help program, call SHIP toll-free at 800-763-2828.

The conseling sessions in the near-term include these:

Del City:          9 am – 1 pm, Thursday, November 18

                        Del City Senior Nutrition Site

                        Del City First Church of the Nazarene

                        4701 SE 26th Street, Del City, OK

Del City:          10 am – noon, Monday, November 22

                        Orval Ray Tower

                        4613 Tinker Diagonal, Del City, OK

Guthrie:          10 am – 2 pm, Tuesday, November 30

                        Guthrie Public Library

                        201 N. Division St. Guthrie, OK

Del City:          10 am – 2 pm, Monday, December 6

                        Del City Library

                        4509 SE 15, Del City, OK

The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.