Making a Difference 2013 - 2014 Family Resource Management Program Focus Team Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas Grand Challenges K-State Research and Extension: providing education you can trust to help people, businesses, and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future. Debra Wood Family Resource Management Agent 785-309-5850 [email protected] Situation Health insurance choices affect all Kansans. Every day 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and many do not understand health insurance or Medicare choices. Insufficient or inaccurate information can lead to late enrollment penalties, gaps in coverage, strained finances, and delayed health care treatment for those who are newly eligible for Medicare. For all Kansans 65 and older — and particularly for those living near or below the poverty level — making sound financial decisions related to health insurance can alleviate stress. It can also free financial resources to meet other goals, improve health outcomes, and support community vitality when those funds stay in the local area. What We Did K-State Research and Extension professionals provided health insurance education, in one-on-one and group settings, for Medicare beneficiaries. In addition to learning how to navigate the Medicare maze, beneficiaries learned about the low-income subsidy, the Medicare Savings Program, and other resources available in their communities. The information opens the door to other services such as supplemental nutrition, utility assistance, food pantry, and food commodity programs. Outcomes During the fall 2013 open enrollment period, 15 K-State Research and Extension local units educated 6,158 Kansans as they navigated through the process of Medicare plan comparisons and explanation of benefits covered. Two out of three participants changed prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plans to one that better met their needs. The changes resulted in total savings totaling more than $3 million — or an average saving of $761 for each person who changed plans. In addition to the plan comparisons, 5,033 older Kansans were educated through office visits or telephone consultations. Kansans reached through Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas educational efforts increased their understanding of: terms associated with insurance, factors to consider when choosing a health plan, how level of coverage and size of deductible affect the premium paid, and where to look for other resources in their communities. Success Story Since 2011, agents have educated Kansans about health insurance through 17,655 Medicare plan comparisons that resulted in total savings of $7.5 million — allowing beneficiaries to reach other financial goals, improve their health outcomes, and potentially support the local community. Clients build relationships with a trusted educator who can provide additional information about financial resource management and related topics. Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.