SENIOR POWER:Medicare and “MY MEDICARE” -- What’s the difference?

by Helen Rippier Wheeler
Wednesday March 24, 2010 - 02:20:00 PM

“MY MEDICARE” is one of the best kept secrets around. It is a secure online service of Medicare, located at . It is useful for accessing your Medicare information, in English or Spanish.  

Es uno de los mejores secretos guardados; es un servicio en línea seguro de Seguro de enfermedad, localizado en .  

I cope with Medicare by keeping my eye on “MY MEDICARE” account. Registering for your own is free, simple and quick. If you don’t have a personal computer, check with the senior center and public library to schedule free use; training is also available. 

As a registered user, you have access to personalized information regarding your benefits and services.  

• View claim status. I objected to a provider’s huge charge; Medicare required the provider to produce documentation, and it was decreased!  

• Order a duplicate Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or replacement Medicare card.  

• View eligibility, entitlement and preventive services information. If you question those ubiquitous ads and commercials for expensive tests and screenings, consult your “MY MEDICARE” account for better alternatives especially relevant to senior citizens who do not have an “HMO.”  

• View enrollment information including prescription drug plans.  

• View or modify your drug list and pharmacy information.  

• View address of record with Medicare and Part B deductible status.  

• Access online forms, publications and messages sent to you by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). 

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Old people are “normally” characterized as grandparents in children’s books. How should novels and stories portray aging? As a natural and lifelong process that includes old people outside of the family, older workers and community members, active and capable. Maggie Kuhn touted intergenerational activities, planning for old age and similarities between young and old. How many novels and motion pictures can you name whose main characters are old persons? There’s Miss Daisy (Uhry), The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman(Gates), Tell Me a Riddle (Olsen)…  

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When you “turn” 70, you discover that in order to renew your driver’s license, the DMV requires retaking written and eyesight exams every 4 years! I arrived at the El Cerrito DMV office, surprised to find a few available parking stalls, although the line of people extended out onto the parking lot. But the signage was good, and I located the place for people with appointments. Always make an appointment; phone 1-800-777-0133 or go online. I got into the flow of things. Eighteen written-test questions (‘passing’ is 3 errors) were a breeze because I had been studying the DMV online tutorial! This time, even the photograph was tolerable. 

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Do you have concerns about the ways your community serves senior citizens? One way to voice them is by attending meetings of its commission on aging and your senior center’ advisory council. Members of the public are permitted to attend and comment, and an agenda may be posted. 


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For your consideration: CALL TO CONFIRM:  

When: Thursday, March 25, 2010. (Yes, today!) 10 AM – 1 PM 

What: Albany Senior Resource Fair  

Where: Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Avenue, Albany 94706 

Details: Free information on many services. Free memory screenings, BP checks, giveaways, lunch!  

For more info: 524-9122 


When: Thursday, April 1, 2010. 1:30-4:30 PM 

What: “The Secret of Compost Revealed.” 

Where: Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Avenue, Albany 94706 

Details: Tony Wolcott, Urban Forester. Free plants samples, food, raffle. 

For more info: or 559-4275; 559-7226 


When: Wednesday, April 7, 2010. 10:30 A.M.  

What: Advisory Council meeting 

Where: Emeryville Senior Center, 4321 Salem St., Emeryville 94608. 

For more info: 596-3730 


When: Wednesday, April 7, 2010. 10 A.M.  

What: Advisory Council meeting 

Where: North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, @ MLK 

For more info: 981-5190 


When: Wednesday, April 21, 010. 1:30 PM 

What: Berkeley Commission on Aging 

Where: South Berkeley Senior Center, 2929 Ellis St. @ Ashby Av. 

For more info: 981-5170, 981-5178 


When: Wednesday, April 14, 2010. 10 A.M. 

What: Emeryville Commission on Aging meeting 

Where: Emeryville Senior Center, 4321 Salem St., Emeryville 94608. 

For more info: 596-3730 

Helen Rippier Wheeler can be reached at