Health Matters

Good news for people with Medicare in 2015: Part B costs will remain the same as in 2014.

Medicare Part B helps pay for doctor bills, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, and other items. It requires a monthly premium and an annual deductible. I’m happy to report that Part B costs for 2015 will be identical to 2014: $104.90 a month for the premium (for most beneficiaries), and $147 for the deductible.

If you are planning on visiting your childhood home during the holidays, you may find that things have changed. Your Mom and Dad may need your assistance to continue living independently in the family home.

Home for the holidays takes on a different meaning when adult children return to the home they grew-up in. The obvious thing will be that your home stayed the same but your parents and their physical needs are very different now.

If you’re a person with Medicare, you have rights whether you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, in which you can choose any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, or Medicare Advantage, in which you get care within a network of health care providers.

Your rights guarantee that you get the health services the law says you can get, protect you against unethical practices and ensure the privacy of your personal and medical information. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, and to be protected from discrimination.

Kristine Watson

Every week when we watched the TV show Lassie, I always thought, "How can dogs be that smart?" Their intelligence and dedication to their human partners continues to amaze us.

Pet therapy has been shown to be particularly helpful to Alzheimer’s patients and those affected by other dementias. Pets, and dogs in particular, can calm those affected by dementia, help them stay active (Dogs love to walk!), and help them stay social through interactions with passersby who cannot resist these fuzzy companions.

You may not realize it, but there are actually two ways to receive your Medicare benefits.

The best-known way is Original Medicare. With Original Medicare, you can choose any doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider you want, as long as they accept Medicare. When you receive medical services or goods, Medicare pays the provider directly.