Independent consultant Linda Clure underscores Walker's advice for seniors to seek free guidance from trained volunteers.
“There are so many details and nuances, it can be somewhat complicated,” she said. “You can read all you want yourself, but you're not going to risk anything by going for a review.”
To augment SHIP and other efforts to advise seniors, Clure and others this year worked with Areawide Aging Agency to train 30 volunteers on the same counseling offered by the insurance department and 1-800-Medicare.
Areawide Aging employees, Clure said, will set appointments for seniors to meet with volunteers one week in October, a week in November and five work days in December at its offices and other Oklahoma City sites.
In Enid, the North Oklahoma Development Association will offer counseling to seniors across Garfield and seven surrounding counties.
“In our experience, 80 percent of those we counsel save money by changing their plans annually,” said A.J. Shorter, information and assistance specialist.
Last year, the 1,200 seniors that association volunteers enrolled saved an average of $500, he said. “That's $600,000 that stayed in the pockets of seniors in Oklahoma.”
With most seniors dependent on about a $1,000 monthly Social Security benefit, the Medicare drug saving leaves money in their budgets, he said.
“It's important to their lives and the towns they live in,” Shorter said. “Everybody benefits.”