Medicare annual enrollment period, a time for medicare eligible people to choose the plan that best suits them, is underway.
And while most seniors will focus on their physical wellbeing, it's important they keep in mind other critical aspects of their health, including staying socially connected.
So joining us to discuss is the head of aetna medicare christopher ciano.
Welcome to the show christopher.
Speaker 1: now let's get right to it.
Why is it so important for seniors to stay connected with their communities and with those around them?
Their communities and with those around them?
Christopher: yeah, we know that social isolation becomes more and more important as seniors age.
And in fact, according to a cvs study, one in five seniors have reported a lack of desire to be social and engaged.
And that it's hard to make new friends and many times their friends and family don't live nearby.
What literature has said to us is that loneliness has the most impact on mortality, equal to like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
So it's very important for us at aetna to be thinking about social interaction and how that affects seniors overall.
I think about seniors who've been active and social all their lives need to be very focused on as they age to remain and find ways to continue to be engaged.
And i think about my own father, who loved to bowl all his life.
He's now 92 years old.
He can't bowl, but several years ago he joined a wii bowling league at the community center.
So we know it's very important for seniors to find ways in their own communities to stay engaged and active.
Speaker 1: interesting.
Now how can medicare advantage plans help seniors avoid feeling socially isolated?
Christopher: medicare advantage plans, besides traditional benefits, are now offering a lot more programs and services to think about really the holistic member.
And at atna for example, we have a program called resources for living, which focuses on things like loneliness and other social aspects and connecting and providing education about what resources are available in the local community.
So our resource for living counselors work one-on-one with our members to really address what their issues may be.
Like transportation, access to housing, whether it's care taking, whatever it may be.
And our goal is to really connect them and allow them to use the resources that are available to them in their communities so that they don't progress towards isolation, loneliness or depression.
It's just really important that programs like this, and for example, gym memberships.
We offer a program through silver sneakers, which provides our seniors access to gyms all across the country.
But more importantly, these are instructor led programs designed specifically for seniors that allow them to make connections with other seniors and make friends and be more of a social and connected environment.
So it's just really important that on these types of benefits are utilized and seniors aware of them.
Speaker 1: absolutely.
Are there any resources people can use to ensure that they are making the best choice?
Yeah, again picking a medicare advantage plan has got to be very unique to the medicare senior and what their specific needs are.
But they can go to medicare.gov and use a feature called the plan finder feature, which basically they can put their zip code in and it provides a list of all the plans that are available to them in their community.
And then they really need to go back to what their goals are.
If affordability, we know many seniors are on fixed income, then they want to look at not just the plan premium, what the copay deductible or co- insurance may be.
They all also want to think about prescription drugs, what types of drugs are on the formulary, and to insure those drugs where they're placed, the cost year piece is aware to them.
And we know many seniors have their preferred doctors, hospitals and pharmacies.
We want them to also make sure they're part of the plan.
They can also go to aetnamedicare.com/l isten for tools and resources on what's available.
Christopher: wonderful christopher.
Thank you so much for being with us today.
We really appreciate it.
Speaker 1: thank you.
Up next: we'll take you out to the smokey mountains... or