Advocates Maneuver Baby Boomers through Medicare

Local Medicare expert reaches out to aging population

With about 71 million Americans expected to be on Medicare and Medicaid by 2029, the need for those entering or already on federal health programs is stronger than ever, local health advocates say.

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, so does the influx of people entering Medicare, a program that can often be complicated and daunting.

Mara Woloshin is trying to ease that process for Baby Boomers, especially those in low income situations.

Woloshin, a public relations practitioner and teacher with years of experience maneuvering the Medicare system, has a contract with CareOregon to speak to groups about Medicare as well as seniors who might be on Medicare and Medicaid and find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

In a sea of Medicare promotional flyers and the push and pull from different health agencies to enlist seniors in health plans, Woloshin’s trying to simplify the process. “I believe that an individual has a right to choose and the only way they are able to choose is to make informed decisions.” .

Woloshin, a Baby Boomer herself, said the generation is unique and health workers need to understand them. “They come loaded with health questions and want to be over informed, and that’s actually a really good thing.”

Reaching out

Woloshin and Care Oregon Advantage have also partnered with religious and non-profit organizations to help low-income seniors maneuver the system. Many Baby Boomers live on fixed incomes, $750 a month, and are trying to figure out how to pay for doctor bills and prescriptions.

She travels to Rite Aid pharmacies every month during senior discount day and Meals on Wheels kitchens to offer support, helping a man with a speech disability call, for example, to get an unbiased counselor to assist with his health plans. “You have to be a mechanical engineer or a puzzle master to figure out costs, doctors, prescription drugs.”

At the Meals on Wheels People in Hillsboro, Woloshin offers help when people stop to grab a meal. “The seniors are very appreciative because a lot of them don’t know how to maneuver the system,” said Julie Piper Finley, director of marketing and communications. This generation prides itself on being independent and isn’t proactive about seeking help.

“Sometimes when you’re dealing with a government bureaucracy such as Medicare, it can be can be very overwhelming,” she said.

Seniors also feel comfortable with Woloshin. “We don’t let in just anybody,” she said. “Seniors know that if something is set up at a meals and wheels center then it’s legit.”

Shelby can be reached at [email protected]

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