This February share your heart with those special people by using your Medicare Preventive Benefits. As of January 1, 2011, under Original/ Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans there are no co-pays for preventive benefits. That means if your doctor feels that you could benefit from a cardiovascular screening you will pay nothing out of pocket for the screen. Taking advantage of the preventive benefits available will help keep you stay healthy (and happy).

Everyone who has had Medicare Part B for at least 12 months is also now eligible for a “Yearly Wellness Exam.” You will pay nothing for the exam if your doctor accepts assignment. You and your doctor will make or update a “prevention plan” for you based on your current health and risk factors.

In October of 2010 every Medicare household received a Medicare & You 2011 handbook. On page 45 is a list of Medicare Covered Preventive Services. We encourage you take the handbook to your next doctor’s appointment and ask him or her if you need any of the screenings, tests, shots or exams. If you don’t have your handbook, or you would like a paper copy of the Preventive Checklist, you can call for a copy or go to the Sage PLUS Program website and download a copy.

If you are new to the program or have Original/ Traditional Medicare, you can also choose to receive information electronically by creating your own account. This is Medicare’s free, secure online service for accessing personalized information regarding your Medicare benefits and services. Your personalized account includes a two-year calendar of the Medicare-covered tests and screenings, and a personalized “on the go” report that you can print and take to your next doctor’s appointment.

Also if you would like to share a little more of your heart, the Sage PLUS Program is a volunteer based counseling program. We are always looking for volunteers to help our community. For more information about volunteering or if you have a Medicare question, we can be reached at: 586-7299/ 1-888-875-9229 or at

From all of us at the Sage PLUS Program/ the Hawaii SHIP we wish you a healthy and happy 2011.

Pamela Cunningham is the Coordinator for Hawaii SHIP (Sage PLUS Program)