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Assistance with Medicare questions available

Senior news

Posted: Friday, March 10, 2000

Why was my medical claim rejected by Medicare? Why won't my insurance company pay the bill? What is the best type of long term care insurance I should buy? Do you have questions about Medicare, health insurance, or what services are available? Alaska Medicare Information program at (800) 478-6065 has the answers.

Located in the Division of Senior Services Anchorage office, Alaska Medicare Information is available to help seniors and their families Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or you can leave a phone message any time. The friendly staff is pleased to offer referrals to needed services, counseling on long term care options available, and information on just about anything.

``Our policy is never to say we don't do that or we don't know,'' explains John Dittmann, the program director. ``We always find out the answer.'' Dittmann explains that there are a lot of organizations to give older Alaskans the help they need. One call to Alaska Medicare Information can direct folks to the right number.

Over 400 people each month contact Alaska Medicare Information for help. Adult protection, personal care attendants, assisted living, AARP, senior centers and whether or not to move parents to Alaska are some of the topics callers ask about. The staff knows the right questions to ask in order to pinpoint the problem. Trained in the application of Medicare rules, the staff explains what the caller needs to do for Medicare to pay the claim, for example.

``Pay attention to the medical services you've received, to the medical bills and what's been paid,'' warns Dittmann. He goes on to explain that most Medicare claims go through without a hitch.

As Director of Alaska Medicare Information for the past year, John Dittmann is dedicated to giving out information that is accessible and understandable to everyone. Dittmann came to Alaska with a background in communications and it shows. He is doing a tremendous job of getting Medicare information out to the public and spreading the word about his program.

In January, Dittmann's office organized and held a statewide video/teleconference on ``Getting More From Medicare,'' reaching 200 Alaskans from around the state. Experts from Alaska Medicare Information and the federal government (Health Care Financing Administration) took questions from service providers, seniors and senior advocates, and provided useful information on navigating the Medicare system.

Two days later, Dittmann participated in a public workshop on Medicare held at the Juneau Travelodge and sponsored by the AARP. He frequently travels around the state, conducting seminars to teach about Medicare and Medicaid benefits, qualifications, enrollment procedures, supplemental insurance and long term care insurance.

One of Dittmann's immediate goals is to develop a corps of trained volunteers to help people locally. He currently has four volunteers in the Juneau area and is looking for more to answer questions and act as advocates for those who need help resolving their problems. Persons interested in becoming Alaska Medicare Information volunteers should contact John Dittmann at (800) 478-6065.

Marianne Mills oversees senior citizen nutrition and transportation programs for Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka as a staff member of Southeast Senior Services, a program of Catholic Community Service (CCS). CCS assists all persons regardless of their faith.



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