This article is from the Spring 2007 edition of the Extension Connection newsletter.
For folks like Shirley Nickel, of Corydon, making sense of all the Medicare prescription drug plans in early 2006 was overwhelming. She had read all the information from Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), saw insurance company TV commercials and had Internet access — but still didn’t feel able to make a decision on her parents’ Part D coverage. It was a presentation and one-on-one consultation with Iowa State University Extension field specialist Joyce Lash that gave her confidence.
“I heard Joyce speak at a Hospital Auxiliary luncheon on the topic of Medicare drug coverage,” Nickel said. “She offered to help anyone work through the computer process of picking out a company because we don’t have a SHIIP person in town.”
Nickel trusted ISU Extension. She had confidence that Lash would help her find a carrier to cover all her parents’ drugs, and one that would be accepted by the local pharmacist and the doctors.
Lash offered one-on-one help in Corydon and other communities that were without SHIIP volunteers because she knew how overwhelming the information and Web-based process was for many people in the 10 south central Iowa counties she serves. “They appreciated the unbiased help and someone to work through the Internet process with them,” she said.
Seniors weren’t the only ones overwhelmed by Medicare Part D according to Kris Gross, SHIIP senior director. “With potentially half a million people who needed to know about Part D in 2006, we appreciated Extension’s help in educating Iowans,” Gross said. “People needed to hear about Part D more than once to understand it. Extension specialists did that by creating a presentation, talking to groups in many rural areas of the state and working with us to provide one-on-one consultations.”
ISU Extension also helps SHIIP reach rural Iowans in areas without volunteers by sponsoring informational meetings and distributing the program’s packets of Part D information.