Navigating your health care choices after retirement

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Health care is a concern for almost everyone. But once you retire, your coverage changes and can be difficult to understand.

People like John Purnell can help. The 76-year-old retiree helps people navigate the maze of Medicare. That’s the federal health insurance program for people over 65.

Like many things run by the government, it can be complicated.

“What we learn at age 65 and older,” explains Purnell, “is that Medicare is available, but Medicare is not always easily understood.”

Purnell volunteers for VICAP, the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program.

His office helps retirees make informed decisions about their health care and gives them tools to appeal when they’re unhappy about coverage. The services are free to anyone qualified for Medicare.

According to Purnell, “We’re not a legal organization. We don’t recommend insurance programs. We try to help people understand the structure of the medicare program and then how do you get through the secondary coverages that are provided.”

Medicare comes in multiple parts:

  • Part A is hospital insurance. It’s usually free.
  • Part B is health insurance. It covers doctors visits and outpatient care. You do have to pay extra for this.
  • Part C is called Medicare Advantage. That plan offers coverage more like a traditional HMO or PPO. You have to pay premiums on this plan too.
  • Part D covers prescription drugs.

Lots of people need guidance when it comes to the A, B, C, D’s of Medicare, and that’s exactly where Purnell and his coworkers come in. All it takes is a phone call.

“Anytime a person might think there could be some assistance, just help through the process, contact the VICAP office,” says Purnell.

The office is inside Senior Connections, another great resource for older adults.

For more information on services for the aging, call (804) 343-3000.

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