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Why do we spend so much time and energy informing and spreading the word about Medicare Health Insurance? The main reason is today's Medicare options are many and varied. Additionally, enrollment periods are time-sensitive with the possibility of premium penalties assessed to those who do not enroll when first eligible.

Medicare is no longer just Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) with or without a Medicare Supplement Policy (a private health insurance that is designed to supplement Original Medicare). You now have a choice as to how you receive your Medicare Health Insurance: Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plans, which are health plan options (like an HMO, PPO or PFFS plans) approved by Medicare and offered by private companies.

Medicare now offers prescription drug coverage called Part D with 51 standalone plans to choose from in Clinton County. The Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC) is our state plan available to most New York State residents 65 years old or older. It works with your prescription drug coverage to lower costs.

In our continuing effort to keep the public informed about health insurance services and options; Clinton County Office for the Aging will host a seminar on Medicare/Medicare Basics, Veterans Affairs Benefits, New York State - Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program and Social Security Wednesday, March 4, from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Pine Harbour Assisted Living, 15 New Hampshire St.,Plattsburgh.

This is a chance for individuals throughout Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties to learn about the basic choices and coverage through Medicare from guest speaker Eric Hausman. He is a consultant with New York City Department for the Aging Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program. Other guest speakers include Steven Bowman, Director of Clinton County Veterans Service Agency; Candy Rivera-Whitehead, New York State EPIC Outreach Representative; and Beppie Sibley, District Manager for Social Security Administration. Join us and receive the latest information and answers to your questions from each speaker.

The seminar and lunch are free but registration is required by calling Office for the Aging at 565-4620. Our day will wrap up with a sharing of thoughts and a prize drawing (must be present to win).

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620.

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