Helping seniors with Medicare paperwork

By Barb Arland-Fye

KNOXVILLE – Myles Murphy was approaching retirement age about 10 years ago and thought he ought to learn something about Medicare. So, the hog farmer and member of St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville attended a meeting on the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

“When I expressed an interest in finding out more about Medicare, (the program’s organizers) said, ‘come and join us and we’ll help you.’”

Murphy wound up taking a week of classes in Des Moines at the Insurance Division of Iowa, which sponsors SHIIP.

Since then he’s volunteered his services to assist other senior citizens as they navigate the complex world of Medicare, supplemental programs and the Part D (Prescription Drug program). He’s also helped some low-income seniors obtain free medications.

His volunteer work focuses primarily on “people having problems with Medicare. We help them file appeals. If mistakes were made on statements, we can assist them.”

The prescription drug program especially has been a challenge for people. “We do a lot of comparisons for people. There are 43 plans in Iowa. To try to pick a plan, it smothers people,” Murphy says.

Knoxville Hospital & Clinics makes a desk available for him, along with a computer. He’s there at least one day a week. “During the last couple of months, I’ve been there three or four days a week. I deal a lot with Maytag retirees who lost their insurance at the end of the year.”

But seniors also call him at home for assistance with Medicare or ask him a question at church, the grocery store or wherever else they might see him. He doesn’t mind.

A total of 302 people sought assistance in December and January, according to the report he submitted to SHIIP.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction in being able to help people; that’s the reward … I’ve got a saying on my refrigerator that says something to the effect that to be truly happy in life you’ve got to find ways to serve.”

As Murphy gets older — he’s 73 now — he’s sure he’ll be appreciative of help offered to him down the road.

Meanwhile, he’ll continue his volunteer work with SHIIP and the food pantry in town and other social action projects in which his parish is involved. He also helps out at the free clinic as a handyman. It’s no big deal, he says.

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