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Help with health care is a call away

September 6, 2012
By ZACH KUKKONEN , Hougton Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - Seniors struggling to make ends meet can get a little help with their Medicare and prescription drug premiums, thanks to a new Medicare premium help program.

The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program, a nonprofit out of Lansing, is working with the Michigan Area Agencies on Aging on Medicare Premium Help, an outreach campaign looking to spread awareness and aid Michigan seniors with their health care, according to an MMAP written statement.

"This is part of a three-month push to get enrollment for their program," said Anna Daugherty of Motion Marketing & Media. "They are incentivizing programs for individual regions, and the U.P. is one entire region."

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Eligibility for the program is based on income, with the maximum being $1,277 for singles and $1,702 for married couples. Seniors or their family or caregivers can call 1-800-803-7174 to check if they are eligible. However, even if they are not, the program can still help them find ways to save on health care.

"If seniors call and they're not eligible for the program, they can still get prescription drug help, among other things," Daugherty said.

The program comes at a crucial time, as according to a 2011 study by Wayne State University's Seniors Count! project, one-third of the 85,000 seniors in the Upper Peninsula don't have enough income to cover basic living expenses. The MMAP hopes to help decrease that number, as it is a free counseling program that provides expert health benefit guidance.

"The best thing to do is to call the 1-800 number, and that will direct seniors to their regional agency on aging," Daugherty said. "The counselor will walk them through the program, walk them through eligibility ... and then seniors can sit down with a counselor at an office."



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