Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP)’s latest outreach effort aims to help more people in the Marianas use the free Medicare preventive care services they are entitled to. The congressional office held its first Medicare informational session on Tuesday and plans to get out into the community for more sessions in the coming months.
“Of the 2,000 people in the Marianas enrolled in Medicare, only about 100 are taking advantage of their free, annual wellness visit,” Sablan said. “Many probably are unaware that they qualify for this free service.
“If Medicare beneficiaries do not want the annual wellness visit—or the other free preventive care that Medicare gives them—that is their choice, of course. I just want to be sure everyone knows these services are available, because getting preventive care can mean longer, healthier lives,” he added.
In addition to the free annual wellness visit, people insured by Medicare can get screenings for heart disease; prostate, lung, cervical, vaginal, and colon cancers; and diabetes. Guidance on quitting smoking is available at no cost. Flu and pneumonia shots are also provided to Medicare beneficiaries for free. Less than half of those enrolled in Medicare in the Marianas are using these services.
“Medicare insurance is something we contribute to throughout our working lives and then after age 65 continue to pay a premium directly or through a Social Security deduction,” Sablan said. “I want to make sure that my constituents know what they are entitled to and are getting what they pay for.”
Tuesday’s information session was held at the Saipan congressional office and lasted about one hour. A small group of current and incoming Medicare beneficiaries registered to attend. Outreach coordinator Katrina Punzalan said she will make note of attendees’ feedback from this first session to ensure that the congressional office has answers to common questions that could come up. Plans to improve and expand future sessions to accommodate larger groups are in the works.
“The feedback we received from participants [on Tuesday] was very helpful,” Sablan said. “I want to thank everyone who helped us focus our message, so we can help more people stay healthy.” (PR)